PROVIDENCE - Restaurants, hair salons, and gyms will all be allowed to reopen as of June 1, but they’ll be required to follow strict guidelines that include mandatory masks, deep cleaning of their facilities, and capacity limits, Governor Gina Raimondo said Friday.
The announcement marks the biggest leap forward to date in Raimondo’s plan for reopening Rhode Island’s economy, which has largely been shuttered since the coronavirus struck the state in March.
Raimondo also said that she’ll mostly lift a mandatory self-quarantine rule for people traveling to Rhode Island, except for those who are coming from outside the country or from a state that still has a stay-at-home order in place. In those cases, travelers will still be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.
“It’s a big reopening relative to what we’ve done," Raimondo said during an afternoon press conference.
The state will release more guidelines for rules about reopening next week, but Raimondo said restaurants will be allowed to operate at 50 percent of their normal capacity, gyms and fitness studios will be required to take reservations, and close-contact businesses like barbershops and massage parlors will have new mandatory cleaning rules to avoid spreading the virus.
Raimondo said the limit on social gatherings will increase from a maximum of five people to 15 people, but she reminded Rhode Island that none of the new policies will take effect until June 1. She has repeatedly asked residents to show restraint over the Memorial Day weekend so that she can continue to relax the state’s restrictions.
Rhode Island is opening two of its state beaches on Monday - Scarborough and East Matunuck - but the others will reopen on June 1.
Raimondo’s announcement came on the same day that the Department of Health announced 23 additional coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the state’s total to 579. The state has see 13,736 residents test positive for the virus since March.
Health Department director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said three of the people who died were in their 60s, four were in their 70s, nine were in their 80s, six were in their 90s, and one person was older than 100.
During Raimondo’s press conference, President Trump announced that places of worship will be allowed to reopen this weekend, and he threatened to “override” governors who do not allow it, although it’s unclear if he has that authority. Raimondo announced earlier this week that churches would reopen next weekend, and she said she doesn’t plan to change the schedule based on the president’s comments.
Recreational activities like a trip to the zoo, boat rentals, and playing miniature golf will also resume on June 1.
Raimondo said she expects the third phase of the state’s reopening to begin in early July, but she warned that could change if the rate of infections jumps during phase two.