PROVIDENCE - Governor Gina Raimondo on Friday previewed what the third phase of reopening the state could look like, including larger capacities for retail stores, restaurants and weddings. Phase 3 is expected to begin around July 1.
"In Phase 2, we have reopened almost part of our economy - businesses, manufacturers, retail, hairdressers, barbers, gyms, church," said Raimondo. "You've seen a broad reopening and the data still looks good. Phase 3 is going to be an even more significant reopening. Essentially everything will be reopened in some form or fashion."
"The only way that's going to work is if we, all of us, work even harder to follow the rules," she continued. " Personally, that's a hard message, it feels strange. On the one hand, the weather's getting better, the virus seems to have subsided, we have fewer cases, but yet, we have to follow the rules even more."
Proposed in Phase 3, indoor social gatherings should be no more than 50-75 people, and outdoor social gatherings no more than 75-150 people. Raimondo said the lower number in each scenario, determined with assistance from the Rhode Island Department of Health, represents the lowest risk possible.
"If you're willing to take a little more of a risk, it's 75 people [for indoor gatherings] and [150 for outdoor gatherings]."
The figures represent a sharp contrast to Phase 2 limitations, which currently restrict capacity for any social gathering to no more than 15 people.
Further, in Phase 3, all indoor settings currently operating at square footage capacities, such as retail stores, can increase capacity by one person per square foot provided that all other health and safety regulations are being followed. For indoor settings with percentage-based capacities, capacity can be increased to 66 percent, or two-thirds of a business' or organizations' overall capacity, again provided that all other health and safety regulations are followed.
Also in Phase 3, all indoor venues remaining closed in Phase 2, such as museums, movie theaters, bowling alleys, arcades and performance venues, can reopen at 66 percent capacity or 100 square feet per person, if six feet of social distance can be maintained from person to person. Larger venues seeking more than 250-person events will have to submit a plan to the state for approval prior to the event.
Childcare centers can increase from stable groups of 10 children to stable groups of 20 children, and nursing home visitations with limitations are being considered for Phase 3.
Finally, there would be no cap for outdoor places of public interaction, such as beaches or parks, in Phase 3, though Raimondo gave a recommended cap of 250 people and urged any municipalities, companies or organizations planning an outdoor event with over 250 attendees to contact the state.
Phase 4 would likely begin in August barring no large outbreaks or surges in the state.
Raimondo also announced new guidelines for a return to in-person schooling beginning Aug. 31 that include stable groups of 30 students and 14 feet of space between stable groups in elementary and middle schools.
As for the latest COVID-19 data, there were 68 new cases of the virus reported Friday, bringing the total number of cases in Rhode Island to 16,337. Nine new deaths due to the Coronavirus were also announced, bringing Rhode Island to 894 fatalities thus far. 2,996 people were tested in the prior day to achieve the data above.
Currently, there are 123 people hospitalized, with 23 of those patients in the ICU and 12 on ventilators. To date, 1,515 people have been discharged.