Rhode Island

RI Extends Phase 3 of Reopening Plan to Aug. 28

Social gathering limits will be lowered from 25 to 15 people but other guidance will remain unchanged

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Due to an increase of coronavirus cases in Rhode Island, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Wednesday she will be extending Phase 3 of the state's reopening plan.

The phase, which was set to expire at midnight, will be extended to Aug. 28, Raimondo said during a news conference.

While the Phase 3 guidance will remain in effect, the only change will be that the social gathering limit will be lowered from 25 to 15 people, Raimondo said.

As of Wednesday, there were two new fatalities in Rhode Island as a result of the novel coronavirus for a total of 1,007 deaths statewide, according to the department of health. There were 61 new positive cases of the virus for a total of 18,800 cases statewide.

Although there has been an uptick in cases, the governor said the cases were "concerning" but not "alarming."

She added that many of the recent outbreaks, however, are being traced to gatherings, often with people in their 20s and 30s.

"We're partying too much," Raimondo said. "It's clear we're not ready to move forward."

The governor said many people are also not wearing masks at gatherings, which is contributing to positive cases.

"You need to knock it off. People are sick and people are dying. Your right to have a party should not infringe on their right to live," Raimondo said.

The governor said state and health officials are still working with superintendents towards the goal of reopening schools by Aug. 31. Five new school reopening readiness guidelines must be met, Raimondo said.

Among the criteria are statewide readiness, municipal readiness, testing readiness, supply readiness, and operational readiness.

Additional guidance documents for schools will be posted on ReopeningRI next week, the governor said. Testing and transportation guidance will be posted the week after.

"Our kids do 100% better when they're in school. But only when it's safe," Rhode Island Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green said at the news conference. "We need to make sure testing is in place before any student or teacher enters the classroom."

Earlier in the day, the Rhode Island Department of Health issued COVID-19-related compliance orders to ten restaurants and bars for various infractions, according to health officials.

During inspections, staff and patrons were observed not wearing masks or practicing social distancing and establishments not screening patrons for symptoms of COVID-19, health officials said.

The list of restaurants and bars can be found on the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation.

On Monday, Raimondo announced a $45 million workforce development initiative in an effort to get Rhode Islanders back to work amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The "Back to Work RI" initiative will use CARES Act funding while partnering with various companies to provide job training, according to a press release from the governor's office.

"Getting Rhode Islanders back to work doesn't mean returning to the old way of doing business. We need to give Rhode Islanders the skills and support they need to succeed in the new economy while building pathways to good jobs for people who have traditionally faced barriers to employment," Raimondo said in a statement.

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