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Churches deemed essential in future states of emergency

August 11, 2021 GMT

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Churches and other houses of worship will be considered providers of essential services during future states of emergency in New Hampshire.

Gov. Chris Sununu on Tuesday signed a bill that allows such religious organizations to operate to the same degree as essential businesses during a state of emergency.

Supporters argued it wasn’t fair to shut down churches during the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic while hardware and liquor stores remained open. Many religious organizations held services online during that time.

The new law takes effect in 60 days.

In other coronavirus developments:

NURSING HOME-VACCINE MANDATE

Workers at the Merrimack County Nursing Home have just under two months to get vaccinated against the coronavirus if they want to keep their jobs.

County commissioners on Wednesday adopted a policy requiring the vaccines for all staff at the Boscawen nursing home and its assisted living facility to be vaccinated by Oct. 1.

Commission Chair Tara Reardon said the decision was based on protecting the health and safety of employees, residents and visitors and the community at large. Officials also want to protect residents from the effects of a worker shortage if there was an outbreak among unvaccinated staff, she said.

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MUSIC VENUE RESTRICTIONS

A music venue in Derry will require concert goers to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test results when it reopens for indoor performances next week.

Starting Aug. 20, the Tupelo Music Hall will require guests to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test within 72 hours of the show. All employees working indoors will be required to be vaccinated and wear masks, while visitors will be encouraged to wear masks.

“Please understand that politics have nothing to do with these decisions,” officials said in a newsletter Wednesday. “The change comes down to the health of our employees, patrons and bands. There will never be a ‘normal’ indoor show again if we don’t take actions now to control the spread of this virus.”

The music hall is encouraging guests to use an app called bindle that will allow vaccination status to be shared without displaying private medical records.

___ THE NUMBERS

More than 102,000 people have tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, including 160 cases announced Wednesday. Two new deaths were announced, bringing the total to 1,393.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Hampshire has risen over the past two weeks from 53 new cases per day on July 26 to 150 new cases per day on Aug. 9.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.