Lockdown restrictions are beginning to loosen in the city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, as authorities are now set to allow restaurants to offer outdoor dining options once again.
City councilors have started to approve permits for sidewalk cafes and restaurants, Sea Coast Online reports.
Restaurants Aren’t Essential Businesses, but It Doesn’t Matter
City Health Officer Kim McNamara explained that these outdoor services have to provide proper seating between customers. Restaurants that can comply with this could very well be the first to get their licenses back.
City Manager Karen Conrad also spoke at the time, adding that they have found it necessary to amend lockdown procedures and allow for these services to resume.
“While this may seem like an odd time to request council approval of these licenses given the coronavirus pandemic and associated executive orders which have prohibited restaurant service, city staff recommends council considers approval subject to any change in the governor’s order that may allow such service to resume.”
Gov. Chris Sununu’s executive order has restricted dine-in food services until May at the very least, thus forcing many restaurants and dining establishments to move to takeout and delivery services to stay afloat. However, with mounting bills and a drop in business, it’s unlikely that these establishments will be able to weather the storm for so long.
Conrad explained that by granting these approvals, the authorities could make things a tad easier for the businesses and put them on the fast track to full opening soon. Some of the establishments that sought approvals on Monday include Popovers on the Square, Fezziwig’s Food and Fountain, and Raleigh Wine Bar and Market.
The move comes on the same day as New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services announces 56 new cases and one new COVID-19 death. The figures bring the state’s total tally to 1,447 confirmed cases and 42 deaths.
The Department also announced three new hospitalizations, bringing the total number of hospitalized cases to 201 – about 14 percent of all confirmed cases, New Hampshire Public Radio reports.
It’s also worth noting that Rockingham County – where Portsmouth is located – has seen the highest number of cases so far. Per the government’s official website, the county now has 498 cases, marking approximately 34 percent of all confirmed cases.
Rockingham now has over 200 more cases than Hillsborough – Manchester, the county with the second-highest number of confirmed cases.
Republican Politicians Move to Cease Lockdowns
City officials’ agitation to open restaurants, however, is mirroring the same sentiment from several states across the federation. With President Trump moving ahead with his plan to reopen the country’s borders and revive the economy, it’s beginning to look like lockdowns are relaxing.
The President already formed his task force to help issue guidance on how the reopening will work, as he named over 200 politicians and business people to help shape his committee.
At the same time, several states have also confirmed their efforts to scale back restrictions. Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia recently announced that he would be opening businesses as early as Friday. Several businesses in the Governor’s plans include gyms, barbershops, bowling alleys, and restaurants.
Also, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said on Monday that beaches and retail stores could open for businesses as usual on Tuesday. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said that he wouldn’t be extending the lockdown beyond April 30, while state parks can reopen on Friday.