WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Monday is the first day of Gov. Gina Raimondo’s two-week “pause.”
Houses of worship are being asked to cap their congregations at 125 people. Restaurants and bars will be reduced to 33% capacity but bar areas will have to close, as will colleges and universities, recreational facilities and gyms.
For the businesses that have to shut down as part of the pause, they’re upset.
“We literally are in the business of making people healthier,” Ryan McGowan said.
McGowan owns Laid Back Fitness in Warwick. 12 News caught him in between classes on Sunday, but starting Monday, and for the next two weeks, his gym will once again be empty.
“Here we go again,” he added.
For the second time this year, his fitness center which trains adults and offers ninja classes to kids is being forced to close.
“I don’t agree. I don’t understand,” Ripples Swim School owner John Heelan said.
He also has to shut down his West Warwick business, though he says it is one of the safest places for kids to be.
“The CDC’s proven that COVID-19 does not live in a well-maintained pool, so it’s equivalent to teaching lessons in a big bowl of Purell, to be honest,” he said.
The closures are part of Raimondo’s temporary pause aimed at keeping hospitals and health care workers from getting overwhelmed.
These business owners are supportive of that motivation but they’re struggling with what they feel is mixed messaging, especially since both facilities have been playing by the rules and they say the state has noticed.
“The same press conference I found out we were being shut down, she announced that they’re expecting higher than normal volume at big box retailers. It just doesn’t jive,” McGowan said. “We’ve had a perfect track record in both of our inspections and yet we’re being shut down.”
“Frustration and contradiction is sort of what comes to mind,” Heelan added. “We’ve been inspected several times by the Department of Health and they say the same thing: our safety protocols are great, our clean facility, the sanitizing, the masks, the distancing, we’re doing everything perfectly.”
Many of the businesses that are forced to close affect children. The owners are encouraging parents to make sure their kids stay active during the pause as it will help keep them healthy and in shape for when they do come back.