In Rhode Island, Restaurants Begin Offering Outdoor Dining

The loosened restrictions are part of Gov. Gina Raimondo moves to reopen the state

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Restaurants in Rhode Island were set to offer outdoor dining to customers Monday in the state's latest move to cautiously reopen the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The loosened restrictions are part of Gov. Gina 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.

Raimondo last week outlined a set of safety guidelines for restaurants that choose to offer al fresco dining.

Diners must make reservations ahead of time and will be asked whether they are showing any symptoms of the coronavirus when they call.

No more than five people will be allowed per party, and tables will be set at least eight feet apart or be separated from other tables by a barrier. No more than 20 tables can be set up in a given space.

Rhode Island is allowing some retail shops to reopen to small numbers of customers as the state begins to lift restrictions meant to curb the coronavirus outbreak. Gov. Gina Raimondo said the state is taking ``baby steps'' out of caution and that more types of businesses could resume operations in coming weeks.

Valet service will not be allowed. Restaurants must enhance cleaning of pens and other objects that multiple people may use, and cashless payment will be encouraged. Paper menus or chalkboard menus will be encouraged.

Restaurants must screen customers when they arrive, but the businesses will be allowed to determine how to do that. Methods could include posters asking customers to screen themselves, having hosts ask if customers are showing symptoms, or taking customers' temperatures.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said Tuesday all residents will be required to wear cloth face coverings in public places beginning Friday.

Raimondo continues to urge people to remain vigilant as restrictions are slowly lifted, saying measures such as hand washing, distancing and wearing masks remained vital. She asked older residents and those with underlying conditions to take extra care.

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