RI to Enter Next Phase of Reopening on June 1, Gov. Says

Rhode Island will move into Phase 2 of its reopening plan next week

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo faces reporters during a news conference, March 1, 2020, in Providence, Rhode Island.
Steven Senne/AP

Rhode Island is on track to begin Phase 2 of reopening June 1, Gov. Gina Raimondo said Tuesday.

"That is going to be a reopening of almost every part of our economy," Raimondo said. "I’m 100% confident that we are ready and we can do this safely."

Raimondo doubled down on her intentions to reopen Tuesday after an initial announcement Friday that they are on track to move to Phase 2. Specific industry guidelines are available on the state's website and more will be released later this week.

Raimondo also indicated she'd have more to say about youth sports Thursday.

The state has not seen any significant spikes or increases in coronavirus cases since it implemented Phase 1 of reopening a few weeks ago, according to Raimondo.

"We’re seeing plateau, a very stable situation, which is a great thing," Raimondo said. "Everyone should feel confident that we’re learning to live with the virus. It hasn’t gone away -- it's still here -- but we're learning to live with it."

Raimondo stressed the need to continue wearing masks and face coverings, social distancing, frequent hand washing and to stay home if people aren't feeling well.

"I’m asking you to just make it a part of your life," Raimondo said. "You wouldn’t think of leaving your house without your purse, your wallet, your phone or your keys, so do the same with your mask."

This weekend, the Department of Business Regulation surveyed over 200 businesses and found 98% compliance with mask-wearing among employees and 97% among customers.

“That’s fantastic,” Raimondo said. “That’s better than it’s ever been. It means we’re getting better at this. As I’ve said from the beginning, don’t fight the rules, follow them.”

The governor was also pleased that no large congregations of people had to be broken up at state beaches at East Matunuck and Scarborough, which reopened for Memorial Day weekend. The state was prepared for thousands of beachgoers, but visitors only numbered in the hundreds.

"The good news is, overwhelmingly, people were out and about doing the right thing," Raimondo said, thanking residents for continuing to follow the rules.

During her daily news conference Friday, the governor extended Phase 1 executive orders, set to expire June 1, until Phase 2 begins. The goal in Phase 2 is to get people back to work safely.

An important change in the phase will be that social gatherings will increase to 15 people.

Domestic travel restrictions will be relaxed but the 14-day quarantine will still stand for residents returning to Rhode Island from an area still under stay-at-home restrictions.

In a COVID-19 update, Gov. Gina Raimondo provides an update on summer camp openings.

In Phase 2, all state parks and beaches will open with capacity limitations and social distancing restrictions. There will not be restrictions on parking, lifeguards will be on duty and concessions and bathrooms and changing rooms will be able at that time.

In an effort to get more Rhode Islanders back to work, the governor said office-based businesses can allow up to 33% of their workforce to return, but working from home is still encouraged.

Child care services will also resume June 1.

Restaurants will reopen with strict rules allowing for outdoor dining only in Rhode Island and New Hampshire as Vermont begins reopening retail shops for the first time in nearly two months.

In Phase 2, restaurants will be allowed to offer indoor dining at 50% capacity. They are already allowed to offer outdoor dining.

Other businesses that will be allowed to reopen with strict restrictions and cleaning protocols in place include hair salons, barbershops, braiders, nail salons, waxing, tanning, massage and tattoo services.

Also allowed to reopen in Phase 2 with restrictions will be gyms, fitness studios, and small group fitness classes, Raimondo said.

Concerts will not be allowed in the next phase but the governor said other entertainment and recreation activities like zoos, public gardens and historical sites will be allowed "to resume on a limited basis."

Malls will also be allowed to reopen with restrictions.

State health officials reported 26 new coronavirus-related deaths on Monday and Tuesday for a total of 634. There were 152 new cases of the virus over those two days for a total of 14,217 cases statewide.

"We have to remember that this virus is taking a very real toll on Rhode Islanders," the governor said.

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