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New Hampshire restaurants reopen for indoor dining

June 15, 2020 GMT
Trish, left, and John Portanova dine inside instead of outside on the patio at the La Carreta restaurant in Portsmouth, N.H. on Monday, June 15, 2020. Indoor dining rooms reopened across New Hampshire as some restrictions due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak were lifted. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
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Trish, left, and John Portanova dine inside instead of outside on the patio at the La Carreta restaurant in Portsmouth, N.H. on Monday, June 15, 2020. Indoor dining rooms reopened across New Hampshire as some restrictions due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak were lifted. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
1 of 4
Trish, left, and John Portanova dine inside instead of outside on the patio at the La Carreta restaurant in Portsmouth, N.H. on Monday, June 15, 2020. Indoor dining rooms reopened across New Hampshire as some restrictions due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak were lifted. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire restaurants reopened for indoor dining Monday, though pleasant weather made patio seating more popular at one breakfast spot.

Erika Kainu, manager of Tucker’s in Merrimack, estimated that at most, eight indoor tables were full at any one time Monday morning, with many customers opting to sit outside instead. The restaurant seats 100 people, but is limited to 50 under new rules meant to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

Customers were happy to return, as were staffers, she said.

“The team is really excited to be back, we’re really happy to have customers in the restaurant,” she said. “It’s obviously been an adjustment, but the team is so flexible and resilient.”

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Restaurants initially were restricted to takeout and delivery after Gov. Chris Sununu issued a stay-at-home order in March. Outdoor dining resumed May 18, and as of Monday, indoor dining is allowed at tables spread 6 feet apart.

Restaurants in Rockingham, Hillsborough, Merrimack and Strafford counties are limited to 50% capacity, however, not just because the vast majority of the state’s COVID-19 cases have occurred there, but because of their proximity to the Massachusetts border.

Monday marked the first day of the state’s move from a stay-at-home order to what the Republican governor has called a “safer at home” advisory.

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THE NUMBERS

As of Monday, 5,345 people in New Hampshire had tested positive for the virus, an increase of 27 from the previous day. The number of deaths stood at 320.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause more severe illness and can lead to death.

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TELEHEALTH EXPANSION

U.S. Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen are among a bipartisan group of senators who say the temporary expansion of telehealth services during the coronavirus pandemic should be made permanent.

The coronavirus relief package Congress passed in March included a provision expanding access to telehealth services for Medicare recipients. The Democratic senators wrote to congressional leaders Monday saying that access should continue permanently.

They said doing so would assure patients that their care will not be interrupted when the pandemic ends.