New travel restrictions causing cancellations on Block Island

Business News

NEW SHOREHAM, R.I. (WPRI) — Newly announced travel restrictions involving visits to and from Rhode Island are swiftly impacting tourism on Block Island.

On Tuesday, governors in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts updated the list of states included in their COVID-19 travel advisories to include Rhode Island. Under the orders, Rhode Islanders visiting one of those states would have to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, and residents of those states would also have to quarantine after returning home from Rhode Island.

In an email Wednesday, Jessica Willi, executive director of the Block Island Tourism Bureau, told Eyewitness News “many hotels are reporting multiple cancellations.”

The announcement was “concerning,” Willi said, noting that the majority of vacationers on Block Island are typically from those states imposing the travel restrictions.

In an already uncertain time due to the pandemic, hotels and inns on the island had already modified their cancellation policies this year, “and most are standing by those policies,” Willi said.

Steven Filippi, who owns Ballard’s Beach Resort, said the resort has so far seen “minor cancellations” for hotel lodging, but said it’s not all bad news.

“All cancellations are quickly being re-booked with a surge of fellow Rhode Islanders,” Filippi wrote in an email to Eyewitness News Wednesday morning.

Filippi is also the president of the Block Island Tourism Council.

The council, according to Willi, is encouraging hotels and home renters “to be as flexible as reasonably possible, as well as the visitors, understanding that Block Island aims to cultivate good will and good hospitality for the long term.”

“At the end of the day, it is up to each business owner to make their own decisions, however,” she added. “They are already trying to survive this challenging season to keep the doors open moving forward.”

Willi said there is not much that can be done about the new rules, since the restrictions don’t originate in Rhode Island. She said since Tuesday’s announcement, there is continued “learning, modifying and adapting.”

“What’s true today may be different tomorrow but we are all doing the best we can,” Willi added.

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