In a previous article, written when many of us expected safe reopening to hinge on herd immunity, I laid out a set of criteria by which I felt it could be safe to open The Fourth Place, including public events and our first physical location.

With the consensus of experts now agreeing that herd immunity is not likely to ever occur, I want to lay out a new set of clear, safe, and responsible criteria and policies that take that reality into account.

Note: This document is currently a draft, pending review by myself, advisors, and our community.


First, as a minimum, we will of course follow all national, state, and local requirements applicable to our type of business and events:

To accomplish that, as a bare minimum we will follow all specific local, state, and federal laws, and enact policies and procedures that meet or exceed the current best practices. These specifics are laid out a couple of sections down, and will be continuously updated.


  • Follow CDC guidelines and NH State guidelines and laws
  • Don't open until the Herd Immunity or until COVID is not longer killing significantly more people than the flu normally does
  • Don't re-open until deaths are consistently going down in our area (or are staying solidly lower than the flu)
  • Also don't re-open unless deaths across the whole country, or in the majority of states bordering ours, are like that too
  • Also don't re-open unless COVID cases are consistently going down, or are even lower than very early in the pandemic
  • The "or" in the three above is because once it's very low, it will probably bounce around instead of going steadily down
  • Everyone inside must be vaccinated and wear a mask
  • No kids until the vast majority of kids are vaccinated
  • Hand sanitizers, masks, and surface cleaning, plus all of the little obvious stuff
  • Close if anyone might have COVID


There are a few things that could help me feel that things were returning to normal enough that I would no longer feel that it was unsafe, irresponsible, or unethical to open a public space or host public events:

  • That the population had reached herd immunity
  • That the pandemic was killing fewer people than the flu usually does
  • The the number of cases and deaths were both going down consistently, or down to some level agreed as manageable and safe

With that in mind, I have come up with what I hope is a responsible rubric (set of specific criteria) to more-objectively judge whether we are at that point.

The Fourth Place will not open until the following criteria are met, if they are not maintained, we will close until they can be.

  • We are able to follow the latest iteration of the public policy requirements above, and the specific policies and procedures laid out below based upon them

  • At least one of the following criteria for Return to Normality has been met at the state level and at least one at the national level

    • Herd Immunity: Public health experts from the CDC, NIAID, and State government agree that herd immunity to COVID-19 has been achieved through a combination of post-infection immunity and current vaccination levels (currently estimated at 80% of the total population)

    • Or Flu Comparison: Daily deaths from COVID-19 have reached a point only somewhat higher than normal influenza deaths (about 150 deaths per day nationally, or 17 per 100,000 population)

  • All three of the following criteria for Sustained Improvement have been met:

    • The seven-day moving average for COVID-19 deaths has gone down in the state for three of the past four weeks, and/or is lower per 100,000 population the than 2019 national average flu deaths (15 or less per 100,000)

    • The seven-day moving average for COVID-19 deaths has gone down in the country and/or the majority of neighboring states for three of the past four weeks, and/or deaths in the nation or majority of neighboring states is lower per 100,000 population than 2019 national average flu deaths (15 or less per 100,000)

    • The seven-day moving average for COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the state has gone down for three of the past four weeks, and/or is lower than the national average on March 24th 2020 (3.16 or less per 100,000)


Our specific policies to remain in line with the above guidances and regulations will include all of the following:

  • Major Measures Summary (also listed below):

    • Everyone must be vaccinated and wear a mask until sufficient vaccination

    • Nobody under 16 until 80% vaccination (or herd immunity) in that age group

    • No children under 12 until 80% vaccination (or herd immunity) in that age group

    • No small children (6 and under including infants) until we can determine how to keep them safe and reach such a threshold

    • Hand sanitizing stations, KN95 masks, and surface sanitizing provided

    • Limited capacity based on current guidelines

    • Nobody allowed with current or recent fever or exposure

  • Communication Policies:

    • Clear communication will be provided to staff (owner, employees, and volunteers,) members, and customers about these policies, including:

    • This page will be made available online, and must be read and agreed to by all staff, volunteers, and members.

    • Signs will be posted at all entrances confirming that masks and vaccination are both required to enter.

    • Posters clarifying rules for all members and customers posted in visible locations near every entrance.

  • Guest Rules (apply to members and customers, plus all staff):

    • Everyone entering the location must be fully vaccinated including at least two weeks since their final dose, or show they are medically unable to do so.

    • Until at least 85% of the population of the state is vaccinated, everyone will be required to wear a KN95 or better mask (provided if needed) except briefly (no more than 5 minutes at a time) while eating or drinking inside the location

    • Until at least 80% of children 12 to 15 are vaccinated in the state, people in that age group will not be allowed at our events or inside our locations.

    • Until at least 80% of children 7 to 11 are vaccinated in the state, children in that age group will not be allowed at our events or inside our locations.

    • Children under 7 years old, including infants, will not be allowed at our events inside our location until we can determine that having them present is safe for everyone.

    • Everyone will be required to follow instructions from staff to ensure we do not exceed safe capacity, and to follow all safety measures, rules, and policies.

    • Anyone with a fever, direct COVID-19 exposure, or significant symptoms within the last seven days will be asked not to enter the event or location.

    • Everyone will be encouraged to regularly wash or sanitize hands, especially when first entering the location or event.

    • Everyone will be encouraged to maintain a 6-foot distance from anyone outside of their household whenever possible.

    • Handshaking and other direct physical contact will be discouraged except for people from the same household.

    • Any guest who violates any of these rules will be asked to leave, and if necessary ejected from the store. Any guest who repeatedly violates any of these rules will be asked never to return. Anyone who returns in violation of these requests will be reported for trespassing.

    • Membership fees will not be refunded for members who are unable to enter the store due to such enforcement, but such members may request cancellation to take effect at the earliest cancellation allowed by their current membership terms.

  • Location Policies & Safety Measures:

    • Total capacity including staff and guests determined by the owner based on federal, state, local, and other expert guidelines will be posted and enforced. Initially, capacity will be no greater 20 people or fewer in our physical location.

    • Hand sanitizing stations will be provided at every entrance/exit and in primary staff areas, and staff will wash hands with soap and water after eating, using restrooms, or re-entering the location.

    • Windows and doors will be kept open when weather, building rules, and local regulations allow.

    • All public surfaces including checkout counter and gameplay tables will be cleaned and sanitized between each use.

    • Facilities online and/or by phone will be provided to pre-order items for socially-distanced pickup where possible.

    • The appropriate state and local healthcare officials, as well as our community, will be notified of all known cases of COVID-19 among staff or guests.

  • Staff Policies (apply to owners, employees, contractors, and volunteers):

    • All staff will be required to stay home when sick. All staff with a fever, direct COVID-19 exposure, or significant symptoms will be immediately sent home, and need a negative COVID-19 test in order to return to work. Employees will be provided with sick leave, and if no paid staff (employees or owner) are available, events will be cancelled and the location closed.

    • All staff will be required to take their temperature every day prior to entering the location, and not come in if they have a fever. Due to our very small size (usually only the owner on site) supervised tests are not expected to be needed.

    • Staff will maintain 6-foot distance from each other and guests whenever possible while still allowing them to carry out their responsibilities.

    • Any volunteer or contractor who violates any of these rules or policies will be subject to the same enforcement as guests, but with stricter interpretation of the rules due to their greater responsibility.

    • For employees, violation of any of these rules or policies will be treated as a violation of employee policies and subject to consequences laid out in our employee policies, up to and including immediate termination of employment.

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