PROVIDENCE, RI — RI’s Phase II was a broad reopening of much of the economy, but Phase III will reopen everything in some fashion, trusting people to watch out for each other, Gov. Gina M. Raimondo says.
“The only way that that’s going to work is if we work even harder, all of us, to follow the rules.” Raimondo said during a press conference at the RI State House last week.
Those rules — keeping your distance from others outside your household, wearing a mask, staying home if you’re sick, and washing your hands, have become familiar to Rhode Islanders.
“If we don’t do all of that even more, then when we reopen the economy we are going to get into trouble,” Raimondo said.
However, she said, she isn’t going to pursue a heavy-handed approach to encouraging those precautions.
While the state will increase inspection of businesses, Raimondo said she won’t seek to fine people into going along. She said Rhode Islanders should take pride in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You guys are leading the nation. Leading the nation, in our cases declining. In our compliance with mask wearing, in our testing. So keep it going.”
Phase III gathering guidelines
Raimondo’s Phase III plan sets ranges for numbers of people in certain gatherings:
Social gatherings (Weddings, parties, networking events, catered events): 50-75 people
Public spaces (Retail, restaurants, gyms, museums, theaters, entertainment venues, houses of worship, close-contact business, offices): Up to 66 percent capacity with 6-foot spacing. Indoor venues operating at a square footage capacity in phase 2 can increase up to 1 person per 100 square feet with 6-foot spacing. Venues must apply to host events greater than 250 people.
Social gatherings: 75-100 people
Public spaces: No cap for outdoor public spaces. (Raimondo noted that outdoor airflow reduces the risk of transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19).
For phase three, Raimondo said, the state will take a different approach from the first two phases – entrusting people to make responsible decisions.
“We’re going to trust you to do the right thing,” Raimondo said, noting that everyone should understand that following the guidelines is the right thing to do to protect yourself and your community.
“We could be living with coronavirus for a year or more,” Raimondo said, so she wants to get out of the business of telling everyone exactly what to do and how.
Phase III: Summer Youth and Adult sports
On Wednesday, Raimondo outlined rules for sports during the summer:
No contact and low-contact sports games played in stable groups (the same players and coaches together through the summer) against teams, with no limit on group size. Such sports include baseball, softball and golf. Players should stay six feet from one another and attempt to wear masks when possible.
Spectators are allowed, but no more than two per player, and they must wear masks.
“I’m asking you to be responsible, be creative and use your very best judgement so that we all stay safe,” Raimondo said.
Beach parking expanding
Parking: Raimondo said that to reduce long lines for parking at the beach, the state will increase state beach parking to 75 percent of capacity, adding more than two thousand parking spaces.
The governor also encouraged Rhode Islanders to purchase beach passes online at beachparkingri.com, so they can take advantage of express parking, and limit in-person interactions. The state will stop selling beach passes in person at the beach as of this weekend, she said.
Parking checks Also, Raimondo said the state is working on a parking status website riparks.com/beachpass to check on parking lot status. She said the website should be running this Saturday.
Masks at the beach The Governor reminded beach goers that masks at the concession stand, while walking between your blanket and the car, and whenever you can’t stay six feet from others, is still required.
Testing moving into community, increasing
Twin River COVID-19 testing ending Saturday, June 27 will be the last day of COVID-19 testing at the site in Lincoln at Twin River casino, Raimondo said.
The National Guard and CVS Health have been operating the testing site to test 1,000 people per day on a temporary basis, and the state will begin to move away from using that site.
Rhode Island has tested about 20 percent of the population so far, Raimondo said, but moving away from the site will not limit the state’s testing capacity. In fact, the state is poised to increase testing, although demand at the Lincoln site has dwindled to a few hundred people per day.
Community testing takes over Testing will now move into the community, at local CVS locations, health centers, hospitals, community health clinics and primary health providers.
CVS.com will still provide testing appointments for one of their 10 drive through testing sites that offsets the volume of testing offered at Twin River, Raimondo said. These test results will be delivered within a few days, but will be more accurate than the rapid tests provided at Twin River.
Get tested for COVID-19 The state is only testing 4,000 people per day, although there is an ability to test 5,000, which Raimondo said means more people need to get tested. The tests provide the state with critical information about the spread of COVID-19, the state’s most effective tool in limiting the spread, Raimondo said.