COVID-19 Update Letter: Stay at Home 2.0 & Preparing for the “Next Normal”

By May 4, 2020 May 7th, 2020 Chamber Insights, COVID-19

Stay at Home 2.0 & Preparing for the “Next Normal”

A note from GMC CEO & President, Michael Skelton


Dear Chamber Members,

When will things get back to normal? It is a question we have all asked ourselves over the past 8 weeks, probably dozens of times, and it is a natural wonder given the sudden and drastic changes our daily lives, businesses, and communities have experienced.

The truth of the matter is, while I believe things are getting better, what we all would consider the “old normal” may not return for some time. The new or “next normal” will look much different and entail many of the practices we’ve incorporated into our daily lives over the past several weeks – wearing masks, social distancing, virtual meetings, remote work flexibility, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting practices – and much more we haven’t considered or don’t know yet. The initial round of “reopening guidelines” shared below is just a starting point and will surely change and evolve as the situation around us does.

Following and adapting to these initial guidelines is just one part of the “next normal.” Longer term, we must grapple with fundamental changes to our economy, business models, and customer expectations in the post-COVID-19 pandemic world. It is not too early to start considering these fundamental changes and I’ve been excited and impressed to come across so many examples of businesses and organizations finding ways to adapt, prepare, and plan for what’s next – even if we’re not sure yet exactly what that “next normal” is. As part of our work at the Chamber, we’re exploring and developing new ways to help and guide you through this phase – stay tuned. Today’s update starts with Stay at Home 2.0:

Stay at Home 2.0 & Reopening Guidelines

The end of last week brought significant news and, perhaps, the first step towards the “next normal.” On Friday, Governor Sununu announced Stay at Home 2.0, a modification of the existing stay at home order that allows for the “flexing open” certain parts of the economy in the coming weeks. This modified order will be in place until at least May 31st and will be revisited in the coming weeks to see if additional flexibility can be added based on NH’s progress in containing the spread of COVID-19.

The order includes a Universal Guidance memo to serve as the basic minimum standards which businesses must meet to maintain or begin operations. These guidelines apply to businesses and organizations that have been deemed essential and remained open during the “Stay at Home Order” and those that are re-opening all or a portion of their operations in the coming weeks. I expect these guidelines to evolve and change as the state’s reopening taskforce continues to receive feedback, so stay tuned for additional updates. Stay at Home 2.0 also provides new specific guidelines for several industries listed below:

Industries that can continue to operate with new, modified guidance:

Industries that can begin to phase-in services on May 4, 2020:

Industries that begin to phase-in, or expand services on May 11, 2020:

Industries that can begin to phase-in, or expand services on May 18, 2020:

  • Restaurant Guidance (allows for outdoor dining with social distancing in place in addition to delivery and takeout).

Community Conversation: BEA Commissioner Taylor Caswell

NH Department of Business and Economic Affairs (BEA) Commissioner Taylor Caswell will join me for a conversation this Thursday at 10 am as part of our Community Conversations webinar series. Topics include Stay at Home 2.0, how NH plans to reopen its economy safely and effectively from the COVID-19 pandemic, and how CARES Act funding is expected to be utilized to support the recovery of businesses, nonprofits, and key institutions across the state.

Commissioner Caswell will also share his insights on strategies and ideas businesses can embrace and implement to adapt to this new environment and attendees will be able to interact and participate in this conversation live and submit questions. Click here to register for this important conversation!

LGM 2021 – Apply to Lead & Guide Greater Manchester’s Recovery

Perhaps like no time before, our community needs to engage, develop, and cultivate a new generation of leaders who can help support and guide our businesses and the community to recovery.

There is no better opportunity to do that than through Leadership Greater Manchester program. Applications are now open for selection to the Class of 2020-2021 and I would strongly encourage anyone interested to apply or recommend the program to a colleague. Planning and preparations are already underway to ensure the LGM program can operate in the era of “social distancing” and adapt to whatever public health guidelines are in place this fall. In fact, our current LGM class has already shifted to virtual interaction thanks to the quick work of our steering committee and staff.

Interest in the LGM program continues to be strong and rolling virtual interviews will be starting soon with applicants, be sure to apply today!

GMC Member Services – Here to Help!

Finally, a reminder that our Chamber team is here to help no matter what challenge or issue you are facing. Over the past several weeks, our team has completed more than 500 member touchpoints and assisted members in a variety of ways. Whether its advice or a referral on how to navigate an SBA assistance program, strategizing ways to guide your business through these turbulent times, identifying novel marketing tools or just connecting with us to share ideas for how our community can recover and move forward, our Chamber team is here for you. We’re in this together – reach out and let us know how we can help!

Be well and stay healthy,


Mike Skelton, President & CEO, GMC