New Hampshire Lawmakers to Gather Thursday at a Hockey Arena

Αssociated Press

A man wearing a protective mask, due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, walks into the Whittemore Center at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H., Thursday, May 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

CONCORD, N.H. -- How do you keep the members of a generously sized legislative body far enough apart to help contain the coronavirus, but still fit in one room?

The answer in famously well-represented New Hampshire: A hockey arena.

The 400 members of the House of Representatives plan to gather Thursday at Durham’s Whittemore Center Arena, home of the University of New Hampshire hockey team. It will be the first session since lawmakers suspended work in March as the pandemic bore down.

The chamber had to get creative to make sure its members are seated 6 feet apart to avoid infections.

Chairs now cover the arena floor, which at this time of year is free of ice. They will roughly correspond to the Statehouse seating arrangement. Anyone who cannot wear a mask for health reasons will be seated in a separate section. A different section is planned for people who refuse to wear one.

If duplicated at the federal level, the New Hampshire chamber’s ratio of representatives to residents would give the U.S. House of Representatives about 97,000 members.