Despite the steady number of coronavirus cases in Rhode Island, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Wednesday state officials will be changing enforcement for some businesses.
Over the Fourth of July weekend, Raimondo said inspectors found more than 90% of businesses were in compliance with mask-wearing and cleaning of high-touch surfaces. Only 20% of inspected restaurants, however, took names and numbers of someone in a reserved party for contact tracing.
"We need to be able to call you if an outbreak occurs," Raimondo said, adding that there was also too much mingling of crowds.
"If you find yourself too close to someone, move. Inside or outside," she said.
Going forward, the governor said businesses found to exhibit "egregious disregard for the rules" will be issued a compliance order or fine by the state's Department of Business Regulation. A second offense may result in a fine or shut down of the business.
Customers who see any compliance issues can also file a complaint on the Department of Business Regulation's website.
Over the Fourth of July weekend, Raimondo said the department of health handed out masks to beachgoers, which were used, and capacity was never reached in parking lots.
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"In general, people were patient and compliant," Raimondo said. "By and large, people were following the rules."
There were two additional fatalities reported Wednesday by the department of health for a statewide total of 971. Another 41 positive cases were reported for a total of 17,204.
Due to the steady number of cases, visits will once again be allowed at the state's nursing homes and hospitals under strict guidelines.
Anyone wishing to visit a loved one at a nursing home must schedule their 30-minute visit in advance, wear a mask and maintain a 6-foot distance from both the patient and staff members, according to Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, the director of the Rhode Island Department of Health. Facilities must screen visitors as well as log their names and phone numbers for contact tracing. Outdoor visits are recommended, Alexander-Scott said.
The state is also lifting the restriction that didn't allow hairstylists and barbers to go to nursing homes.
Visits to patients at Rhode Island hospitals are similar to the nursing home rules with visitors not being allowed to congregate in any common areas such as gift shops or lobbies.
Rhode Island entered Phase 3 of its reopening plan last Tuesday which expands the limits of social indoor gatherings to 25 and allows outdoor social gatherings to be capped at 50 people. At public gatherings such as musical performances, the number of people allowed is capped at 125 indoors and 250 outdoors.
In Phase 3, retail, restaurants, gyms, museums, close-contact businesses, office-based businesses, parks and beaches are allowed to open providing they follow public health guidance such as mask-wearing, social distancing and sanitation protocols.