Lawsuit heard, movies, amusement parks get guidance
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A man should not be allowed to sue over a Nashua face-covering ordinance and the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency because he has not cited any specific harm, lawyers said Thursday.
Andrew Cooper’s request to block the emergency declaration and the city’s face mask rules was the subject of a court hearing while his lawsuit proceeds.
His attorney, Robert Fojo, argued that the state hasn’t demonstrated that restrictions meant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus have worked and that the city lacks the authority to require face coverings to be worn in public.
“We do not have an emergency in this state,” he said. “There is no point to any of these measures.”
The lawsuit is one of several challenging Gov. Chris Sununu’s actions during the pandemic, but the others have been brought by plaintiffs who argue harm to their businesses or specific rights, such as religious freedom.
That isn’t the case with Cooper, said Assistant Attorney General Daniel Will, representing the state.
“Mr. Cooper never alleges the state of emergency declaration has caused him any injury at all,” he said. “He just disagrees with it.”
Steve Bolton, Nashua’s city attorney, agreed.
City officials, he said, have the power to make rules to protect the public health of residents, who are more at risk than those elsewhere in the state because of the city’s proximity to the border of Massachusetts, where the virus has been rampant.
“The Nashua citizenry is at risk,” he said. “The face covering ordinance reduces that risk.”
Other coronavirus-related developments in New Hampshire:
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Reopening guidance for “the last hurdle” of New Hampshire’s businesses — amusement parks, movie theaters, performing arts centers and adult day care centers — has been issued for a June 29 start, Sununu said Thursday.
“All of these really present the biggest challenges that we have,” Sununu said a news conference.
The guidance emphasizes limited capacity and the encouragement of face coverings. Customers at movie theaters, for example, should wear cloth face coverings when entering and leaving the theater; waiting in lines; buying tickets or food; and going to the restrooms when social distancing is difficult to maintain. Face coverings aren’t required when seated and watching a movie “in an appropriately physically distanced theater.”
Sununu, who recently got tested for the coronavirus, said Thursday it came back negative.
He encouraged as many people as possible to get tested for the virus. Last month, the state lifted all criteria for getting tested. Officials announced a community challenge on June 5 dubbed ASAP: Asymptomatic Spread Assessment Program.
“It’s very easy, very convenient,” he said.
Slightly over 6,300 initial unemployment claims were filed in New Hampshire last week, about the same number as the previous week, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday.
The latest number covers new claims through June 13.
The number of new claims in a week peaked at 39,000 in early April and has since been declining.
As of Thursday, 5,450 people in New Hampshire had tested positive for the virus, an increase of 17. One death was announced, for a total of 331.
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.