PROVIDENCE - Governor Gina Raimondo said Wednesday that Rhode Island is at a “turning point” as coronavirus cases edge up, warning that the state will ramp up enforcement of social gathering restrictions and ordering restaurants to close their bar areas by 11 p.m.
Raimondo also said that visitors from 33 states with high infection rates will be required to show they have recently tested negative for the disease before they can check into hotels or Airbnb rentals.
“We want you to come and stay here, but you have to follow the rules,” Raimondo said during an afternoon press conference.
Raimondo also said she is disappointed, but not completely surprised, that Massachusetts is requiring Rhode Island residents to self-quarantine for 14 days if they travel to the state. Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey are requiring Rhode Islanders to self-quarantine if they visit for more than one day. Those announcements came this week after the state saw an uptick in infections.
“It should certainly be a wake-up call,” Raimondo said.
Rhode Island is also attempting to speed up its turnaround time on test results, adding an option to provide results within 48 hours to anyone traveling outside of the state.
The Department of Health reported 84 new confirmed cases, and one additional coronavirus-related death. The state has seen 1,012 fatalities from the virus.
Raimondo said that both the State Police and the Department of Business Regulation are going to increase enforcement of the state’s restrictions this week, including a mandatory closing for all bar areas at 11 p.m. (Restaurants can remain open, but the area near their bars must be blocked off.)
The State Police are also creating an anonymous hotline to accept complaints about large gatherings, and Raimondo warned that individuals who attend parties with more than 15 people can be fined $500.
With schools still scheduled to reopen on Aug. 31, Raimondo announced that any community with a test-positive rate of 100 new cases per 100,000 residents in a week will not be allowed to have complete in-person learning. Currently, Central Falls, Pawtucket, and Providence exceed that threshold.
All school districts have submitted reopening plans to the state, and Raimondo said the Department of Education will announce statewide plans the week of Aug. 17.