Sununu extends New Hampshire mask mandate, citing pressure on health system

New Hampshire

FILE – In this Nov. 3, 2020 file photograph, N.H. Gov. Chris Sununu wears a protective mask, due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, at a polling station in Windham, N.H. New Hampshire joined three dozen other states, including the rest of New England, in enacting a statewide mask mandate as the coronavirus pandemic intensifies. Sununu issued an executive order requiring masks to be worn in public spaces, indoors or outside, when social distancing isn’t possible, which goes into effect on Thursday Nov. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Gov. Chris Sununu is extending New Hampshire’s mask mandate, citing the state’s high coronavirus case rates, hospitalizations and fatalities.

The mandate took effect Nov. 20 and was set to expire Friday. It requires anyone over the age of 5 to wear a mask in indoor or outdoor public spaces where they do not consistently maintain a physical distance of at least six feet from people outside their own households.

Sununu says the state’s health care system remains under immense pressure and loosening or eliminating the mandate would be wrong.

Sununu canceled a planned outdoor inauguration ceremony last week because of public safety concerns — namely, armed protesters who had been gathering outside his home since he issued the mask order.

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