PROVIDENCE – Gov. Gina M. Raimondo said on Friday that she hopes to begin the next step of reopening Rhode Island’s economy by moving onto the second phase on June 1.
“I’m living it with you. I think it’s time and I think it’s safe,” said Raimondo during her daily briefing. “We are ready.”
Until the Governor gives the go-ahead for moving onto the second phase, however, Phase I restrictions are still in place. Raimondo emphasized that groups can be no more than five people this weekend.
“If you travel this weekend and see someone on Memorial Day, you should still quarantine for 14 days,” said Raimondo. “Get through the weekend so we can get to June 1 and get back to work.”
The second phase of reopening will lift restrictions on a number of different industries, while others will be opening for the first time since March. Some of the businesses that will be allowed to reopen include gyms and fitness centers, salons and barbershops, and offices will be allowed to bring some of their workforce back. Travel restrictions will be largely lifted, other than international travel. In addition, gatherings will increase from five to 15 people at a time.
“Don’t hang out with 15 different people every day. It defeats the purpose,” said Raimondo. “Try to keep your groups consistent.”
Salons and barbershops, one of the most inquired about businesses, according to the governor, will be able to open during the second phase but with new guidelines and capacity restrictions. According to a graphic from the health department, customers will have to wait outside in a line instead of in a waiting area.
Restaurants will be allowed to have both indoor and outdoor dining up to a 50% capacity and with new guidelines, including no shared menus, no lines at the bathroom, additional cleaning and mask wearing.
“Help the community if you can,” said Raimondo, who encouraged people to go out to eat and visit retail stores. “If you’re a little nervous, then maybe wait a week.”
Offices, who have largely had employees working from home, will be allowed to bring back one-third of their workforce during the second phase.
“If you can work from home, then work from home,” said Raimondo, and emphasized there will be a number of restrictions on office kitchens, there will be no congregating and mask wearing.
Gyms and fitness studios will be allowed to host group classes, but they will be limited. Raimondo said residents should try to stick to the same class each day to stick with the same groups of people.
Outdoor activities such as zoos, mini golf courses, boat rentals, visits to public gardens and outdoor grounds of historical sites will be allowed during this next phase. All state beaches and parks will reopen with limited capacities. However, Raimondo said festivals and concerts will not be back for a while, as she said that it is virtually impossible to not congregate at these events.
Raimondo said that very detailed guidelines, listed by industry, will be posted on the ReopeningRI.com website after Tuesday.
Cases of COVID-19 identified in Rhode Island increased by 170, to 13,736, with 23 more deaths, the R.I. Department of Health said on Friday. Of these new deaths, age ranges went from people in their 60s to those older than 100-years old, according to R.I. Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott.
The state has reported a total of 579 deaths related to the new coronavirus.
Dr. Alexander-Scott said that the Department of Health will continue to follow the data closely throughout the second phase, while residents should continue to follow newly published guidelines closely.
“All of these steps help build the confidence of rebuilding our economy,” said Dr. Alexander-Scott.
There are 242 people hospitalized with the virus in Rhode Island, a decline from 254 one day prior. Of those hospitalized, 56 are in intensive care units, level with the day before and 40 are on a ventilator, a decline of one day to day.
To date, the state has seen 1,084 hospital discharges of COVID-19 patients.
Rhode Island conducted 3,777 tests on Thursday, bringing the total to 127,139.
Data updates from the health department will continued to be published online on Saturday and Sunday, but not on Monday.
This story has been updated to include details from the governor’s press conference.
Want to share this story? Click Here to purchase a link that allows anyone to read it on any device whether or not they are a subscriber.