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N.H. governor lifting state mask mandate, citing declining deaths and hospitalizations

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu addresses a gathering outside the Elliot Hospital in Manchester, N.H. on Dec. 15, 2020.Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Citing improved public health data, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu said Thursday that he was lifting his state’s mask mandate.

“As fatalities continue to decline, as hospitalizations remain manageable, and as vaccinations continue to increase, the state’s mask mandate will not be renewed tomorrow,” the Republican governor tweeted Thursday. “This mandate going away will not limit or prevent the ability of private businesses or cities and towns from requiring masks, as was the case beforehand.”

“The pandemic is not over, and we are not claiming victory by any means,” Sununu told reporters during an afternoon briefing.

Sununu added that state residents “know how to keep ourselves and our neighbors safe without a state mandate ― just as we did before the winter surge.”


He said in a follow-up statement released by his office that officials carefully weighed all the factors before deciding to lift the mandate.

“We have been very careful from the beginning of this pandemic to take items up individually and make informed decisions,” Sununu said. “We have never set arbitrary dates unsupported by the data and the science.”

He added that state officials “of course” continue to urge residents to wear masks when they can’t physically distance.

New Hampshire reported 412 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, along with a seven-day average of 440 cases per day, according to the official state website. The state has logged 89,983 cases since the start of the pandemic, and 1,261 people have died, the site says.

Dr. Benjamin Chan, New Hampshire’s state epidemiologist, said in the statement from Sununu’s office that wearing a mask remains paramount.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have advised people to wear face masks to protect themselves and prevent COVID-19 from spreading, even when there was no mask mandate,” Chan said. “The lifting of the mandate does not diminish the importance of wearing a face mask. The threat to health from COVID-19 is real. Even as restrictions are reduced, we are still in a pandemic and levels of COVID-19 remain high across the State. Therefore, we ask that people continue to take steps to protect their own health, the health of their family and friends, and the health of their community.”


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.