Representative William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) will be introducing a resolution calling for the end to COVID-19 mandated restaurant closing times, according to a press release from the State of Rhode Island General Assembly.
Currently, restaurants and other social businesses are required to close by 10 p.m. during the week and 10:30 p.m. on the weekends.
Rep. O’Brien says that small business owners have called the closing times arbitrary and devastating to their small businesses.
“While we all want to do our part to defeat COVID-19 and keep our communities safe, these mandated closure times have decimated our restaurants and bars that rely upon nightlife to keep their doors open and their employees working and paid. There has been no scientific evidence or rationale offered for these arbitrary closing times and it is time that we support our small businesses by repealing this order which was only supposed to be temporary in the first place. These businesses have spent thousands of dollars in preparation and COVID-19 safety procedures and they have done everything the state has asked them to do, including following this draconian order to close early every night. Hospital and infection rates are down and our neighbors in Massachusetts are now allowing their restaurants and bars to operate at normal hours. Now is the time to give our restaurants and bars the help that they are pleading desperately for before all of these treasured small businesses close for good,” said Representative O’Brien.
O’Brien says the resolution is modeled upon resolutions recently introduced by the North Providence Town Council and the Cranston City Council.
The resolution calls for the state to allow businesses to operate at their normal business hours. If the restriction is not lifted, the resolution calls for immediate state financial assistance for the small businesses that have been negatively impacted by the order.