3-30-20 Crawford Notch

Hikers make their way to and from their parked vehicles in Crawford Notch with the AMC Highland Center in the background during the nice weather Saturday. (JAMIE GEMMITI PHOTO)

CONWAY — While strong messages are being shared on social media demanding that out-of-staters stay home rather than come to places like the Mount Washington Valley, New Hampshire’s borders remain open.

Despite calls for tougher border protection measures, Gov. Chris Sununu stopped short at that but did issue a request for out-of-state visitors who arrive for non-work reasons and stay for an extended period to voluntarily self-quarantine.

Following his "stay at home" order to Granite Staters issued March 23, Sununu said: “This is not a shelter in place. We are not closing down transportation, we are not closing our borders, and we are not preventing our residents from leaving home.”

Yet the idea of closing borders gained a life of its own Saturday when President Donald Trump flirted with the idea of potentially closing off New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. He eventually veered away from doing so, though Rhode Island and Vermont governors did just that over the weekend.

While Sununu hasn't taken that draconian step, a move seems to be afoot to limit the attractions that cause out-of-state visitors to flock here.

The U.S. Forest Service on Friday took steps to shut facilities and its more popular trailheads. Then on Sunday night, it closed off Mount Washington's Tuckerman Ravine after more than 400 people there over the weekend. More than half of the vehicles parked at the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center were reportedly from out of state.

Groups such as Leave No Trace and the Mount Washington Valley Trails Association have espoused that people should recreate only close to their own backyards versus coming here to test their outdoor skill levels.

New Hampshire Fish and Game on Monday morning released a statement saying: “Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Monadnock State Park has seen a surge in hikers with an estimated 90 percent of the hikers coming from out of state."

Lt. William Boudreau, who sent out the release, added: “Conservation officers would like to encourage people who are enjoying the outdoors to do so with a great deal of caution. People putting themselves at risk results in a multitude of first responders and volunteers having to abandon social distancing guidelines, thus placing themselves at risk."

During his Monday news conference, Sununu spoke of conditions at Mount Major and other places where some said there were too many people congregating or hiking too close together. Sununu said state staff were monitoring those situations.

"In very few instances were people not managing the social distancing," said Sununu. "I think people are taking it incredibly seriously."

Bartlett Selectman (and former N.H. House Speaker) Gene Chandler shared with the Sun on Sunday that he got stuck at a Glen intersection behind 10 cars. He was the only one with a New Hampshire plates and the most of the rest were from Massachusetts, along with New York, Rhode Island and Maryland.

Steve Lavoie of North Conway posted on Facebook over the weekend that he would not be so upset if people from away did their grocery shopping before they come up, rather than come here and clean out local stores for a lengthy self-quarantine and potentially bringing the virus into local stores.

Wrote Lavoie: “The governor is asking for a voluntary 14-day quarantine if you travel from another state, but that doesn’t make sense if you go shopping in town before you adhere to that.”

Local jeweler Timothy W. Psaledakis of North Conway responded by saying, “Best we can do is wash hands. It’s here, whether the person has NH or NY plates. Reducing exposure is the objective. One or two grocery runs a week, and working from home would be consistent with that objective, yes?”

Kim Shroeder Steward of Intervale urged people to withhold judgment when seeing a vehicle with out-of-state plates, noting that some medical people who are helping out at Memorial Hospital, for example, are from out of state.

But a local pharmacist told the Sun that they were backed up filling prescriptions from people from out of state.

"For the past 10 days, it’s been crazy with people coming up from Mass, Rhode Island and New York," she said. "It’s been absolutely ridiculous.”

She said their business is up 25 percent over normal because of it and that "the phone has 10 people at a time on hold with people asking to have their 'scripts' transferred.

“It’s very frustrating because they are coming up from urban areas, and we only have two hospitals,” she said, referring to Memorial and Bridgton. "What’s going to happen when they get sick?”

However, North Conway Realtor Dave Grant of Vacasa NH, a vacation property ownership company with 24,000 properties nationwide, said he has only seen a slight blip in rentals.

“For the most part, a lot of our rentals have shut down at the request of owners as they don’t want people in their rental properties.

“The only silver lining to this, is that it is happening at this normally slower time of the year. To get hit like this in mud season is like a punch in the face; to lose the summer would be like getting your head cut off,” said Grant, noting his company has 55 properties in Mount Washington Valley.

Conway Police Chief Ed Wagner said despite all the talk on social media, his department has not witnessed any hostile interactions between locals and visitors.

“Everything has been eerily quiet,” said Wagner on Monday.

Janice Crawford, executive director of the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce said the chamber is doing its best to distill COVID-19 information to members while doing a bit of a dance by asking visitors to stay away for now but to remember to come back when the crisis passes.

“I think you saw the governor pull back the marketing for spring in New Hampshire … I think what we are saying is that we want people to stay home but to remember to come back and see these mountains that they so love when this crisis passes,” said Crawford.

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(18) comments

kat44

Those mass plates sure are easy to spot.

Try getting your windows fixed under the current circumstance.

Might be a drafty ride home.

cowboyed

Graduated high school in NH, lived here for many years. Common knowledge that the out-of-staters from Mass. invaded us over the past 20-30 years. The resentment is that you brought your liberal politics with you as well as the liberal attitude, which is, do as I say, not as I do. We always thought then, thanks for coming, now go home. In the case of this pandemic, the contagion aspect is way underrated. It is highly contagious and the idea of going where there are people puts everyone at risk. You just need to stay home, period, do not travel. Think of others, not yourself. This is a time of shared sacrifice and to look beyond your selfish interests for sake of the community at large.

New Hampshire home owner

I'm from Mass. and own a 2nd home in the valley for 25 years. I will be staying in N. Conway until the pandemic passes. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Dagger64

[thumbdown] You put us at risk for your own selfish interest, GO HOME!

John Josephs

Technically, one can be a resident of more than one state, but can only have one domicile. Although nobody probably cares, I own property in MA and NH, but N.H. is my primary residence (domicile). If you come here from another state you NEED to self isolate for two weeks. Please bring everything you need for two weeks because you are not supposed to leave your property for two weeks. If you do that, then welcome. Exact same thing for me if I go to Mass. And for that reason I am choosing to stay right here. As a side note, is there anyone out there who supports sanctuary cities/states having a epiphany at this time?

P Logieri

There's a reasonable attitude. If the window breaking and tire slashing solution is followed then those with broken windows or slashed tires - though they may have groceries sufficient for their planned stay - will be forced to interact with local folks.

justsayin'

As the killer coronavirus continues to spread ghost-like across the land, savaging humanity - it's best to stay home. I have two family members, a couple, living in Massachusetts. Both are infected with the virus. One was taken by ambulance to the hospital yesterday, fighting to breathe. Thankfully the hospital had a bed and ventilator available. That person practiced social distancing for the past few weeks - going only to the post office, grocery store and pharmacy. Regardless, that's how easily the virus can infect you. That's how easily the virus may end up killing you. Why take chances?

KTP146

Sharing the sentiment of DaveBarry1099, I suggest that commentator justsayin, might want to look at the number of cases in each state and learn some manners. Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont have roughly the same number of cases, and the Corona Virus knows nothing about state lines. Whether someone travels from RI to Vermont or Conway to Hanover, the risk of contagion is the same. The issue at hand is practicing mitigation and personal aseptic practices. In the past several years I have contributed more to the economy of Vermont than to my home state of Rhode Island,

and will continue to do so for the next few years. We are not "visitors," but rather tax paying home owners, just as much as anyone who lives here full time. This "Anti-visitor sentiment" could backfire if out of state homeowners feel unwelcomed and decide to go elsewhere when this is all over with. "Stupid is as stupid does" might have a change of attitude.

Cj4632

You don’t get it. Stay at home means STAY AT HOME. The risk is NOT the same if one state has thousands of cases and Coos County has 0. I also moved into NH from somewhere else and have lived in a second home here, you are NOT a resident because you pay taxes here and own property. Everybody pays taxes when they travel. Next time you travel, total up all the taxes you paid. You can own all the homes your bank will allow, but you are a resident in one state. For you that is in your “home state” - Rhode Island. A perfectly nice state.

Since you are traveling to Vermont too. You need to know that northern New England (Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire) has one of highest percentage of elderly people in the country. The people most at risk.

Sharon N

KTP146 and DaveBarry1099: You can rationalize all you want, but we are so tired of you self-entitled people who think your their money, privilege, and vacation home(s) give you license to come up here in the middle of a pandemic and do whatever you feel like. Please stay home for your own good as well that of our community of full time residents. You'll be welcome back as soon as this all blows over.

chuck_ma

I also have owned a home in NH, pay taxes, spend lots of money etc. All that being said I understand the attitude and concern. The ONLY way we will get a handle on this is to limit travel and contact with others. I'd love to go up to NH right now, but I respect that I may be spreading the virus to others. My family and I will be back going down the river, going to town and out to eat spending money when it's safe. The sooner we all realize this is needed, the faster we'll be back up.

Dansea4

My daughter works in Glen and on Saturday she counted 67 cars from out of state. NOT counting all the cars at the AMC! As some may know, we have NO CONFIRMED cases here in Coos County! We want to keep it that way. We have three hospitals with less than 150 beds total! Those beds are for Coos County residents! It has been suggested that the Notch Committees of the 1960’s be activated and start checking cars coming into the county! If you have no reason to be here, stay out! YOU ARE NOT WELCOMED until this is over!!!!

DaveBarry1099

As someone who has had a home in NH for decades, I resent this attitude. I'm as much a NH person as you are. I spend money there and pay taxes. Contrary to popular belief, you don't own the state.

Cj4632

You are not a resident until you move here as a permanent resident. You can not be a resident in more than one state anywhere in this country. You are bound to the residency laws of the state you live in for the majority of time. If you have enough money to own houses in 3 or 4 places in this country, you do not get to claim yourself as a resident in all because you pay taxes and spend money there. That’s the law. Plenty of people love NH and spend time here, but live elsewhere. Some eventually become residents. I don’t know where you are from, but if it’s south of here you are under a stay-at-home order from YOUR Governor. For your safety and the people living in the Mount Washington Valley you should have followed your Governor’s mandates. At the very least you should have quarantined yourself for 14 days after arriving in NH. Not going to any stores, banks, gas stations, dumps, restaurants, no where. The same applies when you go home. If you did self quarantine, your welcome to stay. If you didn’t follow the rules. You should leave.

Tekkwolf

This has nothing to do with how much of a NH person you are. It has to do with someone leaving and area with a high exposure risk and infecting other communities with less resources.

Your attitude is ignorant and dangerous. This isn't about you; resent that all you want. Stay safe.

Horrorfilmfan48

Resent it all you want, but as a local who's lived in this town my entire life, working the shitty pawn jobs, let me educate you on how we in the industry think. That mind set you have (owning a home here, paying taxes, etc etc) is 100 % the type of tourist/out of stater that locals don't like. Thinking you're intitled because you own a second home up here. My family owns a home in Massachusetts, but I didn't decide to take a little vacation down there during a world wide pandemic.

I'm not trying to be rude, but this isn't a time to take a vacation and go have fun with your family hiking and shit. This is a time to sit at home and binge watch that show you've wanted to watch or read a book, only getting out when needed.

We might not own the state, but we locals live here here, full time year round and wanna stay safe

Dagger64

You dont live here DAVE. And because you own a second home up here does not make you a "local". Stay home!

justsayin'

"Stupid is as stupid does." But in this case the consequences could be deadly.

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