NH stores reopen with new rules

Published: May. 11, 2020 at 11:03 AM EDT
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Some retailers in New Hampshire were open for the first time Monday since the shutdown, but new guidelines may change your shopping experience a bit.

Matthew McHugh needs a new pair of boots. The Grantham resident popped into Huberts Family Outfitters in Lebanon where the "open" sign is once again glowing out front.

"Nice to be back out and go to a retail operation and see other people and actually get a product that I need," McHugh said.

Retailers across New Hampshire were allowed to reopen their doors Monday, and while some parking lots in this heavily shopped area remained mostly empty, there were signs of new life.

"I'm just glad we are open. I mean, I love my staff, but it is always nice to have other people in here," said Huberts' John Tostenson.

As you enter the Huberts store, hand sanitizer and masks are available for everyone. All staff are required to use PPE and stores must keep their occupancy to half the normal capacity. "I know the other retailers that are open are aching to see their regular guests," Tostenson said.

Some shoppers, however, remain a little apprehensive. "I'm concerned about going in the stores," said Sally Cameron of Orford. "I don't want to catch the virus." But she adds that she's also excited to see the stores open back up. "I think it is good that way people will go back to work and not live off unemployment."

Omer and Bob's has been open since the beginning of the pandemic, since bike shops were deemed essential. Though the front doors remain locked, customers are let in one at a time. It's another change in the world of retail as more businesses get back in the game.

"Hopefully everyone can benefit from doors opening again, as long as it is done in a responsible and safe manner," said Breck Taber, the store's owner.

Some of the bigger stores in the area remained closed Monday. We do not know if and when all stores will reopen, though at least one shopper is ready to spend some money. "Been pent up at home. It's springtime, time to get back out, see the world," McHugh said.

Governor Sununu has made it clear that retailers are not required to open if owners do not feel safe. Barber shops and hair salons also got the greenlight Monday.