Vermont, New Hampshire offer contrasting reopening strategies

Published: Jun. 15, 2020 at 5:15 PM EDT
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The Upper Valley is an important tourist destination for both Vermont and New Hampshire, but the two states have different approaches when it comes to post pandemic reopening plans.

Granite State restaurants reopened to indoor dining Monday at 100% capacity, as well as inns with 20 rooms or less. But bordering Vermont is taking a much more conservative approach.

It was a solid lunch crowd at the Mon Vert Cafe in Woodstock Monday. The breakfast and lunch establishment on Main Street has plenty of outdoor seating. "I really appreciate the support of our locals," said the cafe's Sam DiNatale. Inside capacity is currently capped at 25% per state regulations. "People who don't have an outside patio, I can't imagine it making any sense to them financially."

Hotels and inns in Vermont can book half their rooms. The Charleston House in Woodstock has decided they aren't opening the nine room B&B until July, when owner Dixi Nohl hopes the rules loosen a bit more. "When we know, okay, it's over, we can open again, we can come back. Everything now is so uncertain," Nohl said.

It's a different story in bordering New Hampshire, where inns with 20 rooms are free to book to capacity.

"You are slowly seeing it increase. And of course the end of July when the weddings start everybody is still coming. So, it looks like we are going to have some full weekends, which will be a good thing," said Tami Dowd with Dowds' Country Inn in Lyme.

Restaurants in New Hampshire have now been allowed to open indoor dining at 100% capacity, and businesses like Three Tomatoes Trattoria in Lebanon, are also getting help with outdoor seating options. "I give a lot of credit to the city manager in Lebanon. It was his idea to close down the street. It helped us out and he was really instrumental in making this all happen," said the restaurant's Robert Meyer.

Back across the border, frustration is growing with elected officials in the Green Mountain State. "They are not getting the money to the people who need it," said Beth Finlayson with the Woodstock Area Chamber of Commerce. She says they are still waiting to see how the federal CARES Act dollars will be distributed. Lawmakers last week approved a plan to spend $93 million of it. Plans to distribute the rest are still in the works.

"The Governor has a plan but the legislators can't agree on it. It's been three weeks now since the Governor came out with a plan."

Another contrast -- out-of-state guests staying in New Hampshire simply need to self-attest to quarantining in their home state before coming. New Hampshire's stay-at-home order expires at midnight Monday.

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