PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island is expanding capacity at restaurants just in time for Mother’s Day weekend as restrictions continue to ease with more people getting vaccinated.
Restaurants, stores, and other businesses are now allowed to open up to 80% capacity indoors.
Additionally, restaurants can operate at 100% capacity outdoors with three feet of spacing between each table, according to the rules laid out by Gov. Dan McKee and his administration.
“Mothers Day is coming up, and I’ve mentioned this many times to support our local businesses, reserve your lunch and brunch,” McKee said during Thursday’s COVID briefing.
While McKee called on people to make reservations at restaurants, he also encouraged continued vigilance.
“We continue to make these incremental changes as we lead up to Memorial Day weekend,” McKee said. “The variants are still a challenge, and we’re seeing that they are much more contagious and can impact people more than the first strain.”
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza joined area restaurant leaders in the city to celebrate that “Downtown Is Open” with a series of road closures, parklets, outdoor Al Fresco dining options, special events, and arts and entertainment programming for the spring-summer-fall season.
“As we continue the process of reopening, we want to support our local creative economy by investing in our artists and entrepreneurs, strengthening our workforce and encouraging residents and visitors to experience our world-class small businesses, restaurants, and local shops,” Elorza said.
Last month, 12 News reported on the return of Al Fresco dining on Federal Hill with a few days of street closures for restaurants to expand their outdoor capacity.
“There’s no question that the pandemic has been tough on downtown, but with nicer weather finally here and the great package of flexibilities for restaurants the City has developed, we’re excited for a great spring, summer, and fall ahead,” said Ellen Slattery, owner of Ellie’s and Gracie’s.
Elorza’s office says these outdoor options will be in place for the spring, summer, and fall.
“Downtown has always been one of the best places to visit in Rhode Island, and thanks to our work with the City to give our hospitality, arts, and entertainment partners more freedoms, downtown is going to be even more vibrant this spring, summer, and fall,” Executive Director of the Providence Foundation Cliff Wood said.
More details regarding the City’s outdoor expansion efforts can be found on www.thinkpvd.com.
The change to 80% capacity also applies to gyms, offices, and places of worship among other industries. As for social gatherings, you can have up to 25 people indoors and 75 people outdoors.
On the current trajectory, the capacity limit for businesses and the social gathering limit will be fully removed on Friday, May 28.