Town challenges virus restrictions as unconstitutional

Members of the Rhode Island National Guard staff a checkpoint at the CVS – run coronavirus testing center at the shuttered Twin River Casino in Lincoln on April 6, 2020. The site is scheduled to close this weekend. File photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island town has passed a resolution declaring itself a “First Amendment Sanctuary” and finding the governor’s executive orders designed to control what it refers to as the “Wuhan-origin” coronavirus as unconstitutional.

The Burrillville Town Council passed the measure 5-2 on Wednesday night.

“When these executive orders infringe on the constitutional rights of the people of Burrillville, I believe the Town Council has a right to protect them and should not fund those executive orders,” said Councilman Donald Fox, who voted in favor of the measure, according WJAR-TV.

Councilman Dennis Anderson, who voted against it, told The Providence Journal he agreed there has been some overreach by political leaders, but “I was pretty sure this would get misconstrued and create unnecessary controversy.”

A spokeswoman for Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo defended the executive orders.

“The measures we’ve taken — which are fully constitutional — have drastically slowed the spread of the virus, saved lives, and allowed for the gradual reopening of our economy,” Audrey Lucas said in a statement.

Burrillville, with about 16,000 residents, declared itself a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” last year.



The University of Rhode Island plans to reopen in the fall with a shorter in-person academic calendar and reduced on-campus housing capacity, the school announced Thursday.

The fall semester will begin Sept. 9, and in-person classes will be held through Nov. 25. Classes will continue online until the end of the semester Dec. 14. Finals will be given online.

The schedule is designed to prevent students from returning to campus after traveling for the Thanksgiving break.

The university will reduce the capacity of its on-campus housing from 6,200 spaces to 4,400 spaces. Priority for on-campus living will be given to first-year students, out-of-state students and students with special needs.