coronavirus outbreak

RI Gov. Lays Out Reopening Plan, Hopes to Lift Stay-at-Home Order in 2 Weeks

Gov. Raimondo explained her phased approach in a press conference Monday

Gov. Gina Raimondo gives an update on the coronavirus during a news conference in the State Room of the Rhode Island State House in Providence, R.I, March 22, 2020.
Kris Craig/Providence Journal via AP

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo on Monday laid out her plan for reopening the economy, saying she hoped to lift the state's stay-at-home order in two weeks amid signs coronavirus cases were reaching a plateau.

In a news conference, Raimondo said she would begin reopening using a phased approach starting on May 9 if the state sees a consistent downward trend in number of cases or hospitalizations between now and then.

The stay-at-home order is set to expire on May 8.

"My goal is to... stand here two weeks from today and tell you that I am lifting the stay-at-home order," she said.

"If you hang in there for the next two weeks, hunker down, stay home, work from home, don't leave your home, do everything you've been doing, I'm going to stand here in two weeks and say 'Time to enter Phase 1 of our economic recovery' and 'Time to lift the stay-at-home order.'

Raimondo said Phase 1 of her reopening plan involves the resumption of some business and social activity on a limited basis and with "significant restrictions" in place.

Raimondo said Phase 1 will include allowing social gatherings of 10 or fewer people and the opening of parks and public spaces such as beaches, with strict guidelines in place.

Some child care centers will be allowed to open with strict guidelines in place as well as additional cleaning protocols. A pilot program for dentist offices will begin.

Raimondo emphasized that Phase 1 will still require strict social distancing, and that people able to work from home would be required to continue to do so.

"If we do this right, May 9 and May 10 aren't doing to look that different from May 7 and May 8," she said. "Everybody who is working home now will continue to work from home on May 9."

Retails stores will be able to offer in-store pickup in addition to curbside pick up and delivery. Toward the end of Phase 1, pilot programs will begin allowing some restaurants to open to dine-in guests and some hair dressers and barbers to open as well.

Medical offices that have closed down or reduced hours, such as behavioral therapists and physical therapists will be allowed to "start to reopen" during Phase 1.

The governor said if at any point the state sees a spike in cases, she may have to reintroduce strict measures.

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If cases or hospitalizations continue to steadily decline, the state could then enter Phase 2, Raimondo said, during which "new models for doing business and living while social distancing" would be implemented. Hair salons could open and restaurants could resume dine-in operations, but with strict guidelines in place. More workers could return to their offices, and gatherings of up to 15 people would be allowed.

In Phase 3, most business would be open with new guidelines in place, though travel restrictions may remain in place.

Earlier Monday, the Department of Health announced seven new deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, bringing the state's death toll to 233.

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The state also reported 269 new coronavirus positive cases, bringing the state's total to 7,708.

The state reported that 55,885 residents have been tested statewide, with 48,177 coming back negative.

Despite the new cases, Raimondo said she was confident that the outbreak had reached a plateau in the state.

Raimondo said on Friday Rhode Island is planning to increase testing availability through mobile and walk-up sites in communities across the state.

New walk-up diagnostic testing sites will open in densely populated neighborhoods and places where many residents do not have cars starting this week, the governor said.

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