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New Hampshire will sell rapid COVID-19 tests at state liquor stores

“I think that this is kind of a huge opportunity,” Governor Chris Sununu said

New Hampshire State Liquor Outlet.O'BRIEN, Frank GLOBE STAFF

Whether you live there or are just heading north for a getaway, you’ll soon be able to make a pit stop at one of New Hampshire’s many liquor stores to grab a bottle of wine, maybe some vodka, and to make the celebration complete, a COVID-19 testing kit.

Cue the fireworks (also sold in New Hampshire).

Officials announced Wednesday that within the next few weeks, rapid at-home COVID-19 tests will be on sale in liquor stores across the Granite State. At a hearing, the state’s Executive Council approved a request by the Department of Health and Human Services to use federal funds to purchase 1 million over-the-counter antigen tests for liquor store customers.


The test kits will be paid for using $12 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds, according to the department’s proposal, which the council passed unanimously. The kits will be sold “at cost” for around $13, officials said.

“National antigen supply chains are limited which prevent New Hampshire residents from easily purchasing these tests through traditional access points,” the health department’s request stated. “With the continued increase in community spread of COVID-19 in New Hampshire, rapid and early detection is important to reduce the spread of disease throughout New Hampshire, limit the strain on our medical care system, and keep schools and businesses open.”

Proceeds from the tests will be returned to the federal funds and “reallocated to another eligible expense,” the department said.

Governor Chris Sununu announced the new plan at a press conference Wednesday, shortly after the Executive Council approved it.

Standing near a screen that read “1 Million at-home rapid tests coming soon to NH liquor stores!” Sununu said Lori Shibinette, commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, undertook the initiative to secure the tests.


“A lot of folks in New Hampshire might try to get some [tests] at stores, and maybe there’s not as many on shelves, with the federal government buying up so much supply,” Sununu said. “I think that this is kind of a huge opportunity for the state in terms of accessing tests.”

The move follows earlier efforts by state officials to obtain more rapid tests during the latest pandemic surge. In November, as part of the “Say Yes! COVID Test” program, New Hampshire set up an online portal where people could sign up to have free, at-home tests mailed directly to their homes. Sununu said the program was “incredibly successful.”

While officials had the health of New Hampshire residents in mind, the liquor store plan predictably drew some snarky remarks online.

“This is one of the most New Hampshire things I’ve ever heard,” one person tweeted.

“Peak NH,” another wrote.

They weren’t talking about the White Mountains.

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.