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Providence mayor declares state of emergency, bans entertainment licenses for two weeks

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, at the podium, declared a state of emergency in Rhode Island's capital city.
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, at the podium, declared a state of emergency in Rhode Island's capital city.Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE – Mayor Jorge Elorza took sweeping action Thursday to contain a potential coronavirus outbreak in Rhode Island’s capital city, declaring a state of emergency and revoking all entertainment licenses for at least two weeks.

The mayor also announced the city is canceling permits for all public gatherings of more than 100 people, effectively shuttering nightclubs and live music venues through the end of the month.

Elorza’s declaration comes days after Governor Gina Raimondo’s announced a state of emergency for all of Rhode Island, but it sets even stricter rules when it comes to live events.

Elorza’s revocation on entertainment licenses includes venues of any size, but he said establishments that also have a liquor license can remain open during that prohibition period. Echoing Raimondo, he said this is the city’s best chance to contain an outbreak of Covid-19, the deadly disease that has infected five Rhode Island residents to date.

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The mayor stopped short of calling on the public to avoid all public spaces like bars, restaurants or shopping centers, but he said residents should try to keep a safe distance from one another to avoid catching the contagious virus.

Indeed, even Elorza’s press conference was moved from his office to the alderman’s chamber in City Hall in an effort to keep reporters and city staff separated.

Elorza said two city employees have been asked to self-quarantine by the Rhode Island Department of Health, but he said he is not aware of any positive tests among the city’s 5,000 workers.

Asked if the city intends to close its public schools, Elorza said the school department is working with state leaders on a plan.


Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.