By Elyse Kelly | The Center Square
As travel restrictions between states tighten, particularly in New Hampshire’s neighboring state Massachusetts, businesses once again are among the most concerned.
New Hampshire allows free flow between New England states including Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, but requires a 14-day quarantine or 7-day quarantine with a negative test at the end before travelers from any other states are allowed to mingle, according to Safer at Home New Hampshire.
Massachusetts, however, recently placed New Hampshire on its high-risk state list, requiring travelers, including residents, to quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test upon crossing the border from New Hampshire into Massachusetts, as reported by New Hampshire Public Radio.
For businesses in border towns like Salem and Nashua this means many of their customers must be willing to quarantine for 14 days after popping over to have a bite to eat or visit their favorite shop.
It is too soon to tell how much of an impact these restrictions are going to have, Mike Somers, CEO and president of the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association, told The Center Square.
“But I will say that I think there is a significant amount concern from those border town restaurants simply because the border between Massachusetts and New Hampshire is obviously very porous,” Somers told The Center Square. “People travel back and forth on a regular basis.”
“What is not clear to me is how willing Massachusetts folks will be to take a trip up here and quarantine for 14 days when they get home,” Somers said.
Many of those prospective customers are already working from home, and so could potentially consider a quick trip over the border worth a 14-day quarantine, Somers said. He allowed for the possibility that this could mitigate their concerns, but time will tell, he said.
Another big question playing into the real effect of these restrictions is how they will be enforced. NHPR reported one shopper from Lowell, Mass, who entered New Hampshire to shop unaware of the restrictions.
“It’s great to have these restrictions, but unless they’re planning on following every person that crosses from New Hampshire into Massachusetts home or to a business or wherever, I’m not sure how you would enforce that,” Somers said.
Attracting custom isn’t the only concern for restaurants and businesses. Thanksgiving gave New Hampshire employers a taste of the difficulties surrounding employees traveling out of New England to visit family under the new restrictions. Understaffed restaurants now must contend with employees taking an extra two weeks of vacation to quarantine.
“It’s certainly created a lot of pressure on the workforce and it’s created a lot of issues for businesses to stay open,” Somers said. “And I will say they are struggling to find staff now, so that’s going to make it even worse.”