Potential announcement on outdoor dining at restaurants coming this week

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Currently, restaurants in Rhode Island are limited to take-out or delivery options but could be expanded to outdoor dining later in Phase 1 Gov. Gina Raimondo hinted.

Over the weekend, Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor appeared on Newsmakers and said an announcement could be made by the Governor this week.

Restaurants should not expect to start outdoor dining right away, instead Pryor says there will be about a week between an official announcement and being allowed to seat customers.

If approved, outdoor dining would come with severe restrictions and guidance from the state. Target 12 Investigator Tim White pushed for some insight during that interview.

“We will offer specific guidance for keeping tables spread apart for everyone’s safety, for wearing masks when you are not actually eating,” Pryor said. “For not having shared objects like condiment containers like ketchup and mustard containers, not having those so multiple people touch them, not having shared menus but disposable menus.”

Pryor added that if you are a business without an obvious outdoor space there are ideas in the works that could allow dining establishments to set-up on sidewalks or in parking lots to allow for more tables.

With social distancing requirements, Pryor says more room allows for more tables, giving the potential for more money.

“Now that will happen slowly, we are going to work with municipalities to make that happen, with their approval,” he said. “But we want to make sure we breathe more life into the restaurant economy.”

In Massachusetts it is a different picture, the stay at home order has been extended to May 18. Governor Baker says he will release a reopening plan at that time.

Cases are averaging a gradual decrease, but the governor says it’s just not enough.

“There’s no way to just flick a switch,” Governor Baker said. “Doing so would almost guarantee that we would have a huge spike in infections and fatalities the exact result we are seeking to avoid.”

Raimondo has warned that even after restrictions are relaxed, it is going to feel different for some time. There will be strict guidance from the state on how to reopen and ensure public safety.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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