Health Department Reminds Returning Travelers to Self-Quarantine

April 3, 2020

Many New Hampshire residents with seasonal winter homes who are returning to New Hampshire may not be aware that the state is under a “Stay At Home” order issued by the Governor on March 27, 2020, as well as limitations on group gatherings, essential businesses and other measures taken to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

They may also not be aware of the advisories issued by the CDC, NH Department of Health and Human Services and the City of Portsmouth Health Department that require all returning travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Several popular winter residence locations, including Florida, adopted their Stay At Home guidelines only very recently, if at all; so it is likely that returning travelers from those places have had greater exposure to COVID-19 and may be unwitting sources of community transmission of the disease back home in New Hampshire.

The City Health Officer asks returning travelers to recognize the urgency of this directive and offers the following guidelines for those returning travelers to follow as they self-quarantine:

  1. Do not go out in public.
  2. Take your temperature with a thermometer in the morning and at night, and watch for cough or difficulty breathing.
  3. Employees: Discuss your work situation with your employer before returning to work.
  4. Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares.
  5. Do not have any visitors to your house during this time.
  6. Tell home health care/necessary in-home services, that you are under self-quarantine. 
  7. Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet).
  8. If you get sick with fever, cough, shortness of breath or gastrointestinal symptoms call your primary care physician.
  9. If you need to seek medical care for other reasons, such as dialysis, call ahead to your doctor and tell them about your recent travel.
  10. If you have a medical emergency, call 911. BE SURE to tell them your symptoms and that you are being monitored for COVID-19.

The Health Department advises the following self-monitoring steps and COVID-19 guidance:

• Take your temperature and/or that of family members who are unable themselves.

• Be alert for other symptoms including cough, shortness of breath or gastrointestinal distress.

• Keep a log of your temp and other symptoms.

If you have a fever, cough or shortness of breath:

  • Call your primary care physician – BEFORE you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Cover your mouth & nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and wash your hands promptly.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Otherwise use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

There is no evidence that service or companion animals spread Covid-19.  However, this is a developing situation, so self-quarantined returning travelers should:

  • Limit interactions with pets and other animals.
  • Maintain separation as much as possible and avoid direct contact with pets.
  • Service animals should remain with their handlers.
  • Designate a household member to care for your animals.
  • If you must care for animals; wash hands thoroughly before and after, and wear a face mask.

For more information on COVID-19 visit the City website with links to the Center for Disease Control and NH Department of Health and Human Services, as well as resources available in the City to assist.

The City of Portsmouth website special Coronavirus page [] includes lists of:

  • Food and meal resources for those in need.
  • Food and pharmacy delivery options
  • Restaurants offering takeout and pickup