PROVIDENCE – In what’s being described as a statewide “pause” in activity to halt the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced a few new restrictions, effective immediately, along with additional limitations on businesses in Rhode Island that will go into effect for two weeks beginning on Monday, Nov. 30.
Raimondo said that starting now, social gatherings are limited to a single household and retailers will be asked not to serve customers who are not wearing masks.
And beginning on November 30, indoor dining at restaurants will be limited to 33 percent of the business’s capacity, and only members of the same household will be able to dine together.
Houses of worship will be reduced to a 25 percent capacity and colleges will be closed, with all students to be tested before they leave campus. Recreational venues – including casinos and bowling alleys – will be closed as well as sport facilities such as gyms and indoor arenas.
Schools will remain open for elementary and middle school learners, but high schools will be able to shift to limited in-person instruction at the discretion of local district superintendents.
Raimondo asked that all those who work in office settings work from home whenever possible during the two-week pause. Bars will remain closed and the early 10 p.m. closing will remain in effect at dining establishments.
“I know I need to reduce our mobility and our connectivity with people outside of our household if we’re going to get a handle on this,” the governor said in a press briefing on Thursday, Nov. 19. “We really have to clamp down if we’re going to make it to the end of the year. We’re in a critical place with our hospitals. It’s a tipping point.”
Raimondo said that hospitals in Rhode Island are at 97 percent capacity of COVID beds, and staffing has become critical.
“It’s the staffing,” she said. “There’s massive shortages all over the country.”
“I know the financial pain that’s going on in Rhode Island right now but I’m in a world of all bad choices,” she added. “If everyone in Rhode Island does what we need to do for two weeks, this pause should only last for two weeks. The pause only works if we take it to heart.”
The governor also announced that increased testing will be available in the upcoming weeks, and that new testing sites will open.
Anyone who needs to schedule a test should visit portal.ri.gov.