Business Frequently Asked Questions

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted questions from business owners seeking to clarify portions of the Universal Guidance, as well as resources to help them continue operations in these unprecedented times. The Department of Business and Economic Affairs has compiled the following list of Frequently Asked Questions and will update as new information becomes available.

PPE, Face Coverings/Masks
Prevention and Mitigation
Administrative/Human Resources
Screening and Quarantine

NH Department of Public Health Services: Frequently asked questions regarding the Coronavirus COVID-19.

LATEST UPDATES

Concerns or complaints about COVID-19 guidance non-compliance?  The Department of Justice established an email address and phone hot-line for concerns, questions and complaints:   EO40issues@doj.nh.gov  or  603-271-1225.

Are restaurants with outdoor seating in tents allowed to close the tent sides?
The Governor’s Office and the Division of Public Health have agreed to modify the Restaurant and Food Services Guidance so that tent sides of outdoor restaurant seating areas can be partially closed on the following conditions:

  1. Local officials who approved/permitted the outdoor seating areas must be consulted and must agree with the actions for partially closing the tents that each restaurant wants to take prior to the restaurant implementing those actions;
  2. Cross-ventilation must be established through the tents;
  3. Spacing of 6 feet between the guests at each table must be maintained; and
  4. Guests shall not stand/mingle inside the tent area.


Where can I find the latest sector specific guidance for Golf Courses?
Addendum A has been added to the Universal Guidelines.  This includes Golf Courses and the following other industries:

  • Community Arts and Music Education
  • Drive-in Movie Theaters
  • Drivers’ Education
  • Funeral Homes
  • Equestrian Facilities
  • Golf Courses
  • Libraries
  • Museums and Art Galleries
  • Outdoor Attractions
  • State Parks

Can you please provide an explanation of what essential travel for food, beverage, or medication means?
As defined in the Universal Guidelines, “essential travel for food, beverages” means if someone has to travel just over the border of one of the New England states to obtain food or beverages, they can do that.  However, they cannot travel over the border to go to a restaurant or bar to eat or drink.  They can go over the border to pick up take-out items or go to a store or facility that sells groceries and/or beverages.  

With respect to “essential travel for …medication,” that travel may be farther than just over the border into a neighboring non-New England state and may include travel to either a medical facility, drug store, or other type of therapeutic facility to acquire medication.  

Does an employee/volunteer who goes on essential travel have to self-quarantine when he/she returns to New Hampshire?  Can the employee/volunteer go to work or an organization’s activity area?  Can an employee/volunteer “test out” of quarantine?
The response to this question relies on the definition of “essential employee/volunteer” in the Universal Guidelines, the chart in the Universal Guidelines showing how employees/volunteers are to be handled based on what their risk factors are, Paragraph 1.e of the Universal Guidelines which discusses the travel risk exposure factor, Paragraph 1.f of the Universal Guidelines which discusses how to handle individuals who are “essential employees/volunteers,” and the DHHHS Employee Travel Guidance.
 
Paragraph 1. f includes that first, an employee/volunteer must be determined to be an essential employee/volunteer of a critical infrastructure business/organization and must be deemed to be essential to the functioning of the business/organization.  This analysis is done using the links in the Universal Guidelines to determine if the business/organization is a critical infrastructure business/organization and then a determination of if the employee/volunteer is essential to the functioning of such a business/organization.  If the employee/volunteer is determined to be an essential employee/volunteer, “under limited circumstances… [such an employee] who has a risk factor for exposure to COVID-19 [like a travel risk even if it is work or organization related travel], may be allowed to return to the workplace [or activity area] under special restrictions.  Exceptions to those requirements are detailed in DHHHS Employee Travel Guidance, section titled, “Exceptions to the Quarantine Requirement.”
 
Then, the DHHHS Employee Travel Guidance has to be reviewed.  That Travel Guidance essentially states that:  
As long as the employee/volunteer is not exhibiting symptoms,
Is not a household contact of someone confirmed with COVID,
Is an essential employee/volunteer in a critical infrastructure sector (the link to those sectors is in the Guidance document),
Cannot do the essential work/volunteer activity from home, AND
There is no replacement personnel/volunteer,
 
then the employee/volunteer can return to work or the activity area as long as he/she quarantines for all other purposes other than work or volunteer activity for 14 days after returning from travel and wears a face covering while at work/volunteer activity, stays 6 feet away from others, and participates in daily health screenings.
 
So, yes, an essential employee/volunteer can go to work but he/she has to quarantine for 14 days from all other activities.  And, yes, according to the chart and the other information in the Universal Guidelines, people cannot “test out” of quarantine.  They have to spend the 14 days quarantining.
 
I own a hair salon. Am I allowed to double book hair appointments?
Yes, the latest Safer at Home Cosmetology Guidance allows cosmetologists to double book appointments while following the safe distance protocols and strict adherence to the CDC and other guidance’s noted.  Waiting rooms must remain closed and clients need to be immediately escorted to their seats.  

Can music classes resume practice?
Outdoor or remote sessions remain the better alternatives to playing indoors, especially if a class or performance includes singing or use of wind instruments. If indoors and singing or playing wind instruments, people are required to be spaced 8 feet to 10 feet apart. The maximum music class size, without singing or playing wind instruments, is limited to the number of people who can be at least 6 feet apart, side to side and front to back.  Additional information is located in the Universal Guidelines.

My teenager needs behind-the-wheel practice to get her driver’s license. Can she have in-person instruction?
In-person classroom instruction can take place, as long as students can maintain 6 feet of separation at all times. Provisions have been made in the Universal Guidelines so that students who had enrolled in drivers' education classes before June 5, 2020, can participate in behind-the-wheel instruction for no more than three, 60 minute sessions each week. Instructors and students must wear face coverings at all time when practicing driving.

Are golf Pro Shops/Clubhouses allowed to open and can I provide clubs for rentals?  
Pro Shops/clubhouses may open following the Retail Guidance.  Guests must use their own clubs.  No rentals or sharing of clubs is permitted.  Additional information is located in the Universal Guidelines.

Are drive-in movie theaters allowed to operate at full capacity?  
Following the Universal Guidelines, Drive-In Movie Theaters may now open at full capacity and to safely accommodate patrons, motorcycles must maintain a distance of 10 feet from other vehicles. Portable toilets must be provided to eliminate the need for patrons to wait in line for restrooms and to promote physical distancing.   

Can riding lessons resume?
Yes, with physical distancing appropriately applied and students riding with their own personal riding gear (no sharing of equipment).  Equestrian Facilities must follow the Universal Guidelines.

I’m planning a weekend with my college buddies. What kind of outdoor attractions can we do in a group?
Anything, from bike riding and kayaking to disc golf and water skiing, as long as your group contains no more than 10 people.  Outdoor Attractions requirements are located in the Universal Guidelines.

What do I need to know about visiting a museum or art gallery?
Admission is limited to the number of people who can maintain 6 feet of physical distance, whether seated or viewing an exhibit. Guided tours will be at the discretion of the individual organization.  Museum and Art Gallery requirements are located in the Universal Guidelines.

Are there new guidelines for libraries?
Yes, and they center on a library’s capacity as limiting the number of customers to ensure they maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance at all times including at tables, computer stations, and in book aisles.  Additional information and requirements for Libraries are in the Universal Guidelines.

I’m a restaurant owner. What is the maximum number of people I can have seated per table?
Safer at Home 2.0 guidance for restaurants has been updated. Tables of 10 are allowed, with a maximum of six adults seated. At scheduled events and gatherings, such as a wedding, seating continues to be limited to six individuals at a single table with 50% overall capacity limitation in place.

As an employer, do I need to post or require my employees to review state and federal guidance related to COVID-19?
No, employers do not have to post guidance or require review of guidance, but they should make available the resources for mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 among their fellow employees and customers. The Safer at Home 2.0 plan includes universal guidance.  Also, there is some industry specific guidance that requires certain postings (attractions, golf, performing arts, etc.)

I have an employee who refuses to answer one or more of the required screening questions.  What should I do?
Since the employer is required to ask these questions under the Universal Guidelines, and the employee is required to be screened, the way to deal with a refusal to answer one of the screening questions is to accept the non-response as a “yes.”  And, any employee who reports a “yes” answer is required to quarantine for 14 days.

When screening questions refer to “close contact with someone who is suspected or confirmed to have had COVID-19 in the past 14 days,” what constitutes ‘close contact?’
The standard for being in close contact is being within 6 feet for more than 10 minutes.   Close contact does not include brief contact with a person or customer in passing.

Is it necessary or required for me to hire a specific safety officer to oversee compliance with COVID-19 guidance?
It is not a requirement, but it is recommended to designate existing staff or volunteers who can monitor and advise on implementing guidance as it is updated.

Can I erect barriers in lieu of the 6-feet minimum distance required between tables and is that acceptable?
No. The Safer at Home 2.0 plan for restaurants requires tables to be a minimum of 6 feet away from other tables.  The Restaurant Guidance states that tables should be placed so that people seated at them are 6 feet apart, not just the tables themselves.  Consumer Protection paragraph 5. 

Should golfers wear masks on the course? 
Yes, it is recommended that golfers wear masks if they are non-household members sharing a cart. Additional information is located in the Universal Guidelines.  
 
Are games, billiards, darts, cornhole and karaoke allowed? 
No, these are not allowed inside or outside a restaurant.  Video lottery games are an exception. 
 
Are employees required to review all CDC and state guidance? 
No, but employers should make it available.

PPE, FACE COVERINGS/MASKS

Where can I obtain PPE/ thermometers / sanitizing products?
In addition to numerous retail outlets, disposable masks are also available for purchase at New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlets. For a list of companies and the items they sell including thermometers and sanitizing products to mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19, contact carol.miller@livefree.nh.gov

What forms of face coverings/masks are most effective?
For information about face coverings/masks and their proper use, visit the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Service’s website.

As a business owner, do I have the authority to require face coverings/masks (or not to require face coverings/masks) for employees and also customers?
New Hampshire’s Universal Guidelines enable New Hampshire businesses to require masks for employees and customers. You must also follow your industry-specific guidance, which may have different requirements for the use of face coverings/masks in your industry.

Can employers require employees to wear a mask?
Yes, New Hampshire businesses can use the state’s Universal Guidelines and the Safer at Home 2.0 plan as a foundation to develop and enforce their own policies, procedures and processes to mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Does this new face covering/mask order apply to indoor/outdoor gatherings? Faith-based events?  Does the 100 or more include wait staff/vendors?   
Yes. Per Emergency Order # 63, face coverings/masks are required for all attendees and anyone present, including employees and vendors at any planned gathering of 100 or more individuals.

PREVENTION AND MITIGATION

Can I enter a customer's home, and if so, what protections should I take?
Guidance on who may enter and what precautions to take when entering a customer’s home are outlined in the state’s Universal Guidelines and any applicable industry-specific guidance. Trade associations and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration also offer guidelines for making home repair/renovation visits.

Can I allow customers to come in to my home based business and if so, what protections should I take?
New Hampshire’s Universal Guidelines are in place to mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in businesses and public places. For further guidance applicable to specific sectors (lodging, dining, esthetics, child care, cosmetology, etc.), visit the state’s Safer at Home 2.0 plan.

I have a manufacturing line where it is difficult to socially distance. How should I handle this?
The state has issued manufacturing guidelines under the Safer at Home 2.0 plan and Universal Guidelines that recommend employees wear face coverings/masks if they cannot maintain 6 feet of distance from others at all times.

As a business owner, can I refuse to take cash and require credit/debit cards only?  
Electronic transactions are encouraged, however, the business owner has the option to accept or refuse cash.

ADMINISTRATION/HUMAN RESOURCES

What kind of assistance is available to help employers find workers?
The New Hampshire Department of Employment Security established an online workforce recruitment portal to connect employers directly with people searching for a job. Businesses may request to be included in the list of employers seeking workforce. Additional assistance can be provided by the Department of Business and Economic Affairs.

As an employer, if I make a good faith offer to my employee to return to work, and they decline, would it affect the forgiveness on my PPP loan?
The Paycheck Protection Program is funded by the Small Business Administration and has answers here to questions regarding PPP loan forgiveness. According to SBA, when calculating its loan forgiveness amount, a borrower may exclude any reduction in FTE employees if the borrower is able to document in good faith the following: (1) an inability to rehire individuals who were employees of the borrower on February 15, 2020 and (2) an inability to hire similarly qualified individuals for unfilled positions on or before December 31, 2020. Borrowers are required to inform the applicable state unemployment insurance office of any employee’s rejected rehire offer within 30 days of the employee’s rejection of the offer. The documents that borrowers should maintain to show compliance with this exemption include the written offer to rehire an individual, a written record of the offer’s rejection, and a written record of efforts to hire a similarly qualified individual.

When it comes to the reopening guidelines, are these just suggestions or are they mandatory? Can an employer enforce some guidelines and choose not to enforce others?
Businesses must follow the Universal Guidelines and sector specific guidance, and must follow applicable guidance issued by the CDC and other federal agencies.

What if I have to lay off employees?
If your business is contemplating laying off employees because of the COVID-19 pandemic, contact the New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs to discuss possible options and available assistance programs with a regional business specialist.

If an employee tests positive in our small office, do we have to close for two weeks?
Employers should close off any areas used for prolonged periods of time by the sick person, consult the Universal Guidance, and follow the instructions provided by the NH Division of Public Health Services.  Cleaning procedures and further instructions are located on the CDC website.

Do I have to limit staff meetings to 10 people?
The State’s Universal Guidelines recommend businesses conduct meetings by phone or computer, and limit in-person meetings, to limit exposure to COVID-19. Safe distancing protocols should be followed for in-person meetings.

What if I have to close my business because of the pandemic?  Who do I contact and what resources are available?
If your business is contemplating closure because of the COVID-19 pandemic, contact the New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs to discuss possible options and available assistance programs with a regional business specialist.

I work for a (Massachusetts, Maine or Vermont) company and am working remotely in New Hampshire. Am I required to pay income tax to the state where my work office is located?
The State of New Hampshire does not have a personal income tax or sales tax and is highly protective of this benefit provided to all citizens. The easiest way to take advantage of this benefit is to work for a New Hampshire employer. Each state has unique income tax laws that may apply to remote work situations. Employees should contact human resources, legal counsel, and/or a tax advisor to review their individual situation.

Where do I refer employee candidates for fingerprinting?
The NH State Police is providing fingerprinting on a voluntary basis. To schedule an appointment, call 603-223-3867 and press #1 to follow the instructions to leave a voice message. Appointments are required.
 

SCREENING AND QUARANTINE

Where can I find standard screening questions to ask employees and guests as they arrive?
Screening questions to ask employees and guests are located in the state’s Universal Guidelines .

As a business owner, should I screen customers who are in the healthcare or first responder profession with more precaution/restrictions vs. other customers?
Healthcare workers caring for COVID-19 patients while wearing appropriate personal protective equipment are not considered to have had a close contact exposure and do not need to be screened differently than other customers.

Do my employees have to self-quarantine for two weeks after traveling out of New England to another facility?  
The CDC recommends minimizing travel as much as possible. Measures for protecting employees while traveling can be found here. Any person traveling to New Hampshire from outside of New England must self-quarantine for 14 days per the NH Department of Public Health Services and the Universal Guidelines.  Pathways that enable options for employees to continue to work can be found in the Universal Guidelines.

Do we have to staff the screening area with a paid employee for all employees when they arrive?  For example, our drivers may be in at 5am, and some of our workers have varied schedules arriving at different times.
Staffing the screening area is not necessary as long as the arrival screening protocols are in place (thermometer for self-testing and questionnaire). Employees may self-attest.

If workers travel between facilities (example Manchester and Lebanon), do they need to screen at each facility in the same day?  Self-screening for the same company multiple times in the same day is not necessary; however, temperature taking is recommended.

Can employees with flex schedules self-administer the health screening (no management oversight)? 
Yes, employees may record their own temperatures and complete the questionnaire without oversight.

Do we screen all employees or just those that have customer contact?
All employees are subject to the screening process outlined in the state’s Universal Guidelines.

When screening questions refer to “close contact with someone who is suspected or confirmed to have had COVID-19 in the past 14 days,” what constitutes ‘close contact?’
The standard for being in close contact is being within 6 feet for more than 10 minutes.    Close contact does not include brief contact with a person or customer in passing.

Does a business need to maintain screening records for all visitors and for how long?
Currently, there is no requirement for how long screening records for visitors must be maintained. Maintaining the records for a period of 21 days would allow for the Division of Public Health to reach out to the business to obtain information about when the visitor, who tests positive for COVID-19, had been at the business and with whom the visitor may have met.