Sununu announces mask-wearing campaign, lawmakers OK mandate


CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu announced a public service campaign Tuesday to encourage wearing masks during the coronavirus pandemic as state lawmakers approved a policy requiring masks when they enter the Statehouse.

The social media-based campaign will target people between the ages of 15-40. Data suggests this group has slightly lower mask usage nationally, he said. Just as disposable masks were made available earlier this year for businesses, Sununu said a couple hundred thousand reusable cloth masks will be made available soon through Community Action Programs, health district offices and school districts.

He said while New Hampshire has been managing its coronavirus cases, “it would just be very naive to think that we would somehow be immune from the surges you’re seeing in the rest of the country.”

Sununu has not issued a statewide mask mandate. In his office, “if social distancing isn’t possible, then we wear a mask,” he said. He also has worn a mask when running errands to stores.

The Statehouse is currently just open to legislative staff and members; it is not yet open to the general public. But the measure approved 11-0 Tuesday by the New Hampshire Joint Committee on Legislative Facilities applies to “all persons.”

The policy applies to all areas of the complex under the use and control of the legislative branch. It does not apply to those areas under the use and control of the executive branch, including Sununu’s office, the Executive Council chamber and offices, and the Secretary of State’s office.

If a person does not have a proper face covering, one will be provided. Exceptions will be made for children under age 6 and for people for whom face coverings would harm their health or safety.

Legislators and legislative staff are not required to wear face coverings when they consistently can maintain at least 6 feet (2 meters) of social distancing.

Senate President Donna Soucy and House Speaker Steve Shurtleff called the measure “a commonsense approach to protect the health and safety of members and employees.”

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