Rhode Island To Enter Phase 2 Of Reopening June 1

PROVIDENCE, RI — Rhode Island is ready to move into phase two of reopening Monday, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Friday.

Raimondo said she is confident that the state can move into the next phase of reopening because all four benchmarks for safety have been met. It has also been about three weeks since the end of the stay-at-home order, during which time there has not been a sudden spike in hospitalizations or coronavirus cases. The benchmarks are explained below.

  1. Hospital capacity: To safely move to the next phase, the state's hospitals would need to be below 70 percent capacity. At this time, the number is around 30 percent, with the number of hospitalizations continuing to trend downward, Raimondo said.

  2. New hospitalizations: The state must have 30 new hospitalizations per day or fewer. The state is seeing numbers in the high teens to low 20s, Raimondo said.

  3. Rate of spread: The rate at which the virus spreads, or R value, must be below 1.1. Rhode Island's current rate is around 0.7, which shows that the rate of spread has decreased significantly since the height of the outbreak, Raimondo said.

  4. Doubling rate of hospitalizations: The benchmark for this measure is to have the rate of hospitalizations double every month or more. At this time, the rate of hospitalizations is decreasing, Raimondo said, not doubling at all.

"We can move with confidence to phase two," Raimondo said, adding that if these indicators begin to show the virus is spreading rapidly again, the state will have to take a step back. "If things change, we have to change. That will be the way we are living for awhile."

In order to safely continue the reopening process, all Rhode Islanders must continue to strictly follow social distancing rules, wearing masks and avoiding crowds, which she called "superspreaders" of the virus.

"I am counting on you to do your best to social distance, follow the rules, and stay out of crowded places," Raimondo said. "If you find yourself in a crowd, I want you to get out of a crowd. You are doing something wrong."

Highlights of phase two are listed below.

  • Phase two will mark the return of indoor dining at restaurants, up to 50 percent capacity.

  • All state parks and beaches will reopen.

  • Indoor malls will allowed to reopen.

  • Twin River Casino will open by invitation only June 8.

  • Limited visitation will be allowed in hospitals for end-of-life and other extenuating circumstances.

  • Visitation will continue to be prohibited at nursing homes.

  • Hair salons, nail salons and other close-contact businesses will reopen.

  • Gyms can reopen under strict regulations.

Patch editor Scott Souza contributed to this story.

This article originally appeared on the Cranston Patch