Rhode Island’s ‘pause’ lifted; closed businesses can reopen with restrictions

Coronavirus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island’s “pause” officially ended Monday after being extended for a third week.

On Friday, Gov. Gina Raimondo said there were “sustained decreases” in percent positivity rates during the pause, which the state anticipates will help the hospital capacity stay at a more manageable level in the coming weeks.

Now, some places that were closed during the pause will reopen including gyms, casinos, and indoor recreation, along with restaurants being able to increase capacity to 50% indoors.

This includes both Maxx Fitness Clubzz that decided to stay open when Raimondo’s pause shut down gyms on Nov. 30. They were eventually forced to close on Dec. 4 after a Superior Court judge issued a restraining order.

“I could tell that everyone was very aware that it had been three weeks, there were a lot of masks there was a lot of social distancing,” Matt Rafanelli, of Johnston, said. “You could tell that people were still trying to get back into everything because it’s been a long time, so everyone is trying to find their groove. It was definitely weird for me after three weeks, trying to come back and lift.”

During the pause, bars, gyms, casinos, and theaters were closed and restaurants had to limit indoor dining to a third of their normal capacity.

Although the pause has been lifted, Raimondo urged Rhode Islanders to remain cautious, especially as the holidays approach.

The social gathering limit will stay limited to a single household, including for Christmas. Exceptions are made for people who live alone — who can see one other household, up to five people — and outdoor diners, who can combine two households if they eat outside.

“That’s a hard message for me to deliver,” Raimondo said Friday. “We’re all going to have to reinvent our family traditions… I’m asking you to please celebrate with the people that you live with.”

Churches, however, remain untouched by the pause being lifted, remaining at 25% capacity, instead of the 50% capacity they reached before the start of the pause.

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