Due to rising cases of COVID-19 in Rhode Island, Governor Gina Raimondo today announced tighter COVID-19 restrictions and regulations.

Last Wednesday, Governor Raimondo rolled out new restrictions on social gatherings, sports, houses of worship, and visitation.

Today, Rhode Island Department of Health announced 566 new positive cases of COVID-19 and 8 new deaths.

The following new restrictions/rules go into effect on Sunday, November 8, and will be in effect for at least two weeks.

The social gathering limit remains at 10 people.

Stay-At-Home Advisory

A stay-at-home advisory is in effect from10 pm to 5 am on weeknights. It will begin at 10:30 pm on Friday and Saturday.

Early Closures

All restaurants, bars, gyms, recreational facilities, and personal services must end service at 10 pm on weeknights, 10:30 pm on Friday and Saturday. Restaurants may stay open after that time for take-out only.

Venues Of Assembly

The capacity limit for indoor venues (performing arts venues, movie theaters, house of worship) is 50% with a maximum of 125 people. The outdoor venue limit is 66% with a maximum of 150 people.

Catered Events

The limit for catered events is 25 people indoors and 75 outdoors, with exceptions for previously-scheduled weddings.

Box Stores

Businesses are asked to cancel any non-essential work-related travel.

Masks

Masks are required when with people you don’t live with, including outside and at the gym.

At 3:30 pm today, Rhode Island Hospitality Association issued the following statement in response to the new Phase III restrictions.

“The RI Hospitality Association (RIHA) has been in constant conversations with Governor Raimondo’s office over changes to the restaurant guidelines”, said Dale J. Venturini, President & CEO, RI Hospitality Association.

“Last week, we were notified that the Governor was planning on implementing a 9:30 p.m. closing time for restaurants similar to what Connecticut and Massachusetts have recently mandated,” said Venturini.

“As a direct result of RIHA’s advocacy, we were able to gain several concessions from the Governor’s office to limit the impact on our industry. Specifically, restaurants are allowed to remain open for on-premise dining until 10:00 p.m. Monday – Thursday and until 10:30 p.m. Friday – Sunday. In addition, restaurants are allowed to remain open for takeout and delivery. The additional restrictions are difficult for restaurants already struggling, but we are thankful that Governor Raimondo and Commerce RI listened to RIHA to minimize the impact as much as possible,” Venturini concluded.

Watch The Governor’s Press Briefing

On Thursday evening, Governor Raimondo announced the following in an email;

It was about a month ago that we started to see our COVID-19 numbers ticking up, and we asked everyone to find small changes we can make in our own lives to keep people safe, from wearing our masks more often to canceling social plans. To those who made changes last month, thank you. We also said at that time that if the trends continued in this direction, we’d have to impose new restrictions, and that was something we had hoped to avoid.

Unfortunately, we haven’t seen the change in our numbers that we need to. Today Rhode Island set a new daily record for case numbers, and unfortunately we’re not alone in this spike. It’s happening all over the country and the world. In fact, just yesterday, the U.S. saw its first day with more than 100,000 new cases. Because of that, today we’re announcing seven new measures that will take effect on Sunday. These measures are part of a regional approach in close coordination with Massachusetts and Connecticut. Over the next two weeks, we will be closely monitoring behavioral data to see if this approach is working or if we need to impose additional restrictions.

1. Effective Sunday, a stay-at-home advisory is in effect from 10pm-5am on weeknights, and 10:30pm-5am on Fridays and Saturdays. At that time, unless you’re going to and from work or running essential errands like getting food or going to the pharmacy, you should be in your own home. Not someone else’s home – your home. We know that late-night house parties are a major factor in this second wave. And if you’re at a restaurant or bar until that time, once it closes, drive straight home. We’re not going to take a heavy hand – as always, our approach calls for voluntary compliance. But if we do see big parties at any time of day, and particularly at night, we will break them up and fine you. 


2. Also effective Sunday, all restaurants, bars, gyms, recreational facilities (such as casinos, bowling alleys, and museums), and personal services must close at 10pm on weeknights, and 10:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Restaurants can continue to offer takeout and drive-through after that time.


3. We’re lowering the capacity limit for indoor events and venues of assembly to 50%, with a maximum of 125 people. For outdoors, the limit will be 66%, with a maximum of 150 people. This applies to things like performing arts venues, movie theaters, and houses of worship. I’d ask everyone to consider switching to virtual worship for the next few weeks.


4. We’re reducing the limit for catered events to 25 indoors and 75 outdoors. If you already have a wedding planned in the next two weeks, we’re able to consider an exception if you contact the Department of Business Regulation. 


5. We’re reducing the capacity limit at malls and big box stores – retailers with more than 30,000 sq. ft. of space – back to the Phase 2 limit of 1 person per 150 sq. ft. Over the last few weeks, we’ve started to see more crowding at these businesses, and we anticipate that will continue to increase as we head into a big shopping season.


6. In addition to working from home when possible, we’re asking businesses to postpone or cancel nonessential work-related travel. We’re also leading by example in this regard and have put a hiatus on work-related travel for state employees.


7. We’re updating our masking guidance to require masks at all times with anyone you don’t live with. That includes anytime you leave your home – including at the gym – and private gatherings if there’s anyone there you don’t live with.

I know this is hard to hear for businesses – and particularly restaurants and bars. While it’s my hope that doing this now will prevent us from needing to shut you down entirely in a few weeks, it’s still tough. You’re doing everything you can, but the fact is that anywhere that people are gathering and taking off masks, the virus is spreading, and that’s unavoidable when there’s food and drinks. Today, as we announce these new measures, I am also announcing that we will be sending grants to all active Rhode Island restaurant and bars impacted by this early closure order.

Restaurants and bars will receive between $2,000 and $10,000 based upon how much business they typically do. These businesses will need to attest that they were affected by this early closure, and then they can expect their grant from the Division of Taxation within 30 days. We know these grants might not make up for what has been an extraordinarily difficult time, but we hope it will help as we make another round of temporary sacrifices to stop the second wave.

I’m confident these targeted interventions will make a difference. But that’s only true if we all take it to heart. It’s been a long 8 months, and it’s not lost on me how hard this is. I feel it myself, and I see it in my family. But I also know what can happen when Rhode Islanders rally together. We did it in the spring, and we became national leaders. Let’s do it again.

We’re all in this together.
-Gina RaimondoGovernor
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This story is developing and will be updated.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).