Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Monday two state beaches will reopen in time for Memorial Day while also setting the targeted timeline for when houses of worship can begin allowing in-person services.
While speaking at her daily news conference, Raimondo said East Matunuck and Scarborough state beaches would reopen next Monday with restrictions in place.
At both beaches, there will be limited parking spots, no lifeguards on duty, no concessions and no access to bathrooms or changing rooms, Raimondo said. On the plus side, visitors to the beaches will not have to pay.
"It is our hope that in Phase 2 will open all the state beaches," Raimondo said, saying also that all state parks are now open. "We encourage you to take your family for a walk."
Raimondo said the administration has been working with an advisory group of faith leaders across the state on how to safely reopen and while many people have been creative by celebrating in their cars and online, the hope is to get houses of worship open by the end of the month.
The governor said exact details will be provided later in the week but houses of worship will not be able to distribute Holy Communion and no hymnals or other papers will be allowed in church pews.
While hair salons and barbershops in Rhode Island are not being allowed to reopen until Phase 2, Raimondo said the state's commerce team will be hosting a Facebook town hall Monday afternoon for owners so they have the opportunity to ask questions and voice their concerns.
More on the Coronavirus in Rhode Island
Monday's news conference comes on the same day restaurants in Rhode Island were set to offer outdoor dining to customers in the state's latest move to cautiously reopen the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The loosened restrictions are part of Raimondo's moves to reopen the state after its stay-at-home order expired earlier this month. Restaurants have been limited to take-out and delivery operations under the order.
The state has been in the first phase of its reopening process since May 8, when its stay-at-home order expired. In this phase, social gatherings are limited to five people, but some business activity has resumed with restrictions in place.
The governor said moving between phases is dependent on hospital capacity, the number of new hospitalizations, the rate of spread of the novel coronavirus and the doubling rate of hospitalizations.
The state's health department announced 7 new coronavirus-related deaths on Monday bringing the total to 506. There were 121 new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, bringing Rhode Island's total to 12,795.