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With new rules, Rhode Islanders are getting ready to return to the gym next week

Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo at her daily news update about the coronavirus in Rhode Island.Jonathan Wiggs

PROVIDENCE -- You’ll have to wear a face mask, even if you’re running on a treadmill, or else stay 14 feet away from other people.

You’ll have to make a reservation, like you’re going to a restaurant, and provide your name and phone number in case there’s an outbreak.

You’ll have to stay in groups or classes of no more than 15 people. And forget about using locker rooms and taking part in contact sports like boxing or wrestling.

Those were some of the new rules that Governor Gina M. Raimondo outlined on Wednesday as she aims to reopen gyms and fitness centers on Monday as part of Phase 2 of reopening the Rhode Island economy.


“You can go back to the gym,” Raimondo said. “But like everything else in our lives, it’s going to be different.”

The governor said she does not work out at gyms, but if she did, she would feel safe under the new rules and guidelines detailed online at Reopening RI.

Rhode Island has new rules for gyms during Phase 2 of reopening the state economy.State of Rhode Island

“Go back to your gym and enjoy it,” she said. “But follow the rules to keep everyone safe.”

Raimondo noted Rhode Island will be ahead of neighboring states if it goes ahead with its plan to reopen gyms, restaurants, churches, barber shops, and hairdressers next week under new rules and restrictions.

But, she told Rhode Islanders, “I trust you to do the right thing -- to follow the rules.” She noted that state inspectors found the vast majority of employees and customers wearing masks last weekend.

And she said the number of new coronavirus cases has reached a stable plateau.

The Department of Health on Wednesday reported that another 21 Rhode Islanders have died from the outbreak, bringing the death toll to 655.

Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, director of the Department of Health, said the 21 new fatalities include one person in his or her 50s, one in his or her 60s, three in their 70s, nine in their 80s, and seven in their 90s. She said 16 of the 21 had been in long-term care facilities.


Latest coronavirus data from the Rhode Island Department of Health.Rhode Island Department of Health

Another 143 residents have tested positive for the virus, bringing the total number of positive tests to 14,353, the Department of Health reported. There are 218 people in the hospital, 49 in intensive care, and 35 on ventilators, while 1,175 have been discharged from hospitals.

Alexander-Scott said the number of hospitalizations is stable, reflecting how well Rhode Islanders have been doing with social distancing, wearing face masks, and taking other prevention measures.

“That gives us confidence to go out into society and get our economy going again,” she said. But she emphasized that all those precaution are even more important as segments of the economy reopen in Phase 2.

Raimondo noted that while the hospitalizations are stable, the state’s death toll has reached 655. “They are not numbers,” she said. “They are people, our loved ones in Rhode Island.”

And in response to the anguish and anxiety caused by the pandemic, the American Red Cross is launching a Virtual Family Assistance Center, she announced.

The free service will provide information, referrals, counseling, and mental health services to help families coping with grief, she said. The center also will provide support for virtual memorial services and legal matters.

Raimondo said that on Thursday she will discuss new guidelines for indoor dining. And she said she will soon provide guidance for youth sports. “There will be youth sports this summer in Rhode Island,” she said.


Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.