Different plans to reopen economies in RI, Mass. could impact border towns

Coronavirus

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker say reopening their states’ shuttered businesses is going to be a process — and the precise timelines are still being hammered out.

Raimondo is still hoping to begin phase one of her plan to reopen the economy on May 9, but notes it all depends on how the next two weeks unfold with testing, cases, and hospitalizations.

On Tuesday, Baker extended his stay-at-home advisory by two weeks, urging residents to stay home and avoid any unnecessary travel and person-to-person contact until at least May 18. His plan to reopen the economy is less clear than Raimondo’s.

With the two states on different tracks and abiding by different restrictions, individuals living in border towns could soon be under different sets of rules; restaurants in East Providence could be open for business, while businesses just down the road — but in Seekonk — would remain closed.

Another example: people with children who are living in Massachusetts and working in Rhode Island could soon face different sets of child care restrictions.

Border towns across the country are experiencing this situation, including Virginia, where Gov. Ralph Northam is considering opening parts of the state.

“Can we open up different regions quicker or sooner than others? And a great example is in Bristol,” he said. “Is it really fair for Tennessee’s businesses to be open and Virginia’s not to be?”

Bristol, Virginia, and Bristol, Tennessee share a border, and while state and local health officials in Tennessee are allowing some businesses to reopen, Virginia’s stay-at-home order remains in place.

“You have two different governors and two different sets of orders — that we have to abide by,” Bristol, Virginia Mayor Neal Osborne said.

As of now, both the Ocean State and the Bay State are advising people to not travel between states.

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