State on track to start next phase of economic reopening

Newport’s famed Thames Street. File photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News


By The Associated Press 

Rhode Island is on schedule to launch the second phase of its economic reboot next week, given the successes of the Memorial Day weekend, Gov. Gina Raimondo said Tuesday.

“The good news is, overwhelmingly, people were out and about doing the right thing,” the Democrat said during her daily news briefing on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The state Department of Business Regulation did 200 checks on businesses over the long weekend and found that 98% of workers were in compliance with mask-wearing regulations while 97% of customers were in compliance.

The state didn’t have to break up any large gatherings, although she acknowledged that a cool Memorial Day may have kept the crowds away from reopened state beaches.

Although details are still being worked out, businesses including hair salons, gyms, child care providers, and all state parks and beaches should be allowed to reopen with restrictions beginning next Monday, Raimondo said.

Restaurants will be allowed to offer indoor dining at 50% capacity and houses of worship will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity.

But the governor warned that it will be more important than ever to maintain social distancing and wear face coverings in public places to prevent a resurgence of the virus.

Raimondo also said that 35,000 residents have now downloaded the state’s contact tracing app, Crush Covid RI, reiterating that neither the state nor any private company retains any personal information for tracking purposes.

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FATALITY UPDATES

The state Department of Health on Tuesday reported an additional 26 additional coronavirus-related fatalities, but that includes the numbers from Sunday and Monday since the department did not update its online database on Monday because of the holiday.

The 26 new deaths bring the state’s fatality total to more than 630.

The department also reported 73 new cases Monday and 79 on Sunday. Although those numbers were way down, department Director Nicole Alexander-Scott said that was because of the holiday when some testing sites were closed.

The spread of the disease in the state’s urban areas continues to be a concern, she and Raimondo said.

The number of people hospitalized with the disease remains steady, but the number of people in intensive care and on ventilators continues to decline, Alexander-Scott said.

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NEWPORT MASK PROPOSAL

The Newport City Council is expected to consider a resolution this week that would go beyond state rules and mandate mask-wearing at all hours on some city streets.

The measure introduced by Councilwoman Susan Taylor, if passed at a special meeting Wednesday, would go into effect Friday, WJAR-TV reported.

Under Raimondo’s executive order enacted earlier this month, anyone in a public place has to wear a face covering if it’s not possible to maintain a 6-foot (2-meter) distance from others.

Newport’s proposal goes a step further, requiring all pedestrians to wear masks on some busy downtown streets that get lots of foot traffic whether social distancing can be maintained or not.

The resolution is meant to keep people healthy as more residents emerge from their homes during the nicer weather, and more people visit the city.

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MUSEUM POSTPONES 2020 PROGRAMS

The National Museum of American Illustration has announced that in response to the coronavirus pandemic it will not open for the 2020 summer season.

All events and exhibitions planned to premiere this summer will be postponed until 2021, when the Newport museum is able to safely reopen to visitors, according to The Newport Daily News.

The museum beginning Friday will instead launch a series of digital exhibitions on its website.