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New Hampshire Shuts Down Non-Essential Businesses And Instructs Citizens To Stay At Home


New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu issued COVID19 Emergency Order #17 late last week, requiring all non-essential businesses and organizations to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers, and the public beginning on March 27 through  12:01AM on May 4. Businesses providing “Essential Services” as outlined in Exhibit A to Emergency Order #17 are excluded from Governor Sununu’s order and are allowed to stay open.

Gatherings Of Greater Than 10 Individuals Banned

Consistent with current federal guidelines and actions taken in neighboring states, New Hampshire has also banned gatherings for 10 or more people. This ban is enforced by the Division of Public Health with the assistance of state and local police.

Citizens To “Stay At Home” With Exceptions

Though Governor Sununu was quick to note that “this is not a shelter-in-place,” he made clear that “beyond the essential necessities, you should not be leaving your home.” The text of the order states that “New Hampshire citizens shall stay at home or in their place of residence” with the following exceptions:

“Essential” Services May Continue

The order permits services in the sectors listed below provided that such businesses or organizations develop strategies, procedures and practices to allow for social distancing protocols consistent with guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New Hampshire Division of Public Health. Essential businesses and organizations are likewise encouraged to continue operations through remote means and to avoid (where possible) having employees, customers, or the public entering the essential service’s physical facility.

What Is Essential?

Following the lead of neighboring state Massachusetts, the Governor’s order contains an expansive listing of essential services that may remain open in Exhibit A to Emergency Order #17. This includes:

Law Enforcement, Public Safety, First Responders

Food and Agriculture

Health Care/ Public Health / Human Services

Energy Electricity Industry:

Petroleum workers:

Natural and propane gas workers:

Waste and Wastewater

Transportation and Logistics

Public Works

Communications and Information Technology Communications:

Information Technology:

Other Community-Based Essential Functions


Hazardous Materials

Financial Services


Defense Industrial Base

Exempt Entities

The order specifically exempts primary and secondary schools (K-12), state, local, and county governments, state, local, and county legislative bodies, and the judicial branch. The order likewise does not apply to places of worship, but such places remain subject to the limitation on gatherings of 10 or more people.

Exemption Requests

Businesses or services that believe they are “essential” but do not fit into one of the categories listed in Exhibit A to Emergency Order #17 are permitted to request that they be designated as an essential function by emailing and providing contact information and a brief justification for the request.


We will continue to monitor the rapidly developing COVID-19 situation and provide updates as appropriate. Make sure you are subscribed to Fisher Phillips’ Alert System to get the most up-to-date information. For further information, contact your Fisher Phillips attorney, any attorney in our Boston office, or any member of our COVID-19 Taskforce. You can also review our nationwide Comprehensive and Updated FAQs for Employers on the COVID-19 Coronavirus and our FP Resource Center For Employers, maintained by our Taskforce.

This Legal Alert provides an overview of a specific state law. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation.


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