Statewide ‘pause’ extended through Dec. 20


PROVIDENCE – A pause on activities in Rhode Island that comes with increased restrictions on businesses was extended on Thursday, with Gov. Gina Raimondo announcing that the current rules will stay in place through Sunday, Dec. 20.

The news, announced during the governor’s press briefing, comes even as statewide data shows a slight downward trend in the number of positive cases.

“If we continue to stay home as much as possible for another week, I believe it will have the effect we need,” Raimondo said.

The announcement means that restaurants, now at 33 percent capacity for indoor dining, will continue to serve parties only from a single household, and gyms and athletic facilities will remain closed. Recreational venues such as casinos and bowling alleys will remain closed, and houses of worship will still be limited to 25 percent capacity.

“I can hear in my own mind the collective groan of businesses who are getting hurt by this and I’m sorry,” the governor said.

But with extension does come with some additional economic relief.

Raimondo announced that the deadline for the Rhode Island Coronavirus Relief Grant Program has been extended through Monday, Dec. 14. According to the governor, 1,800 businesses across the state affected by the pause have already applied for funding, and the first 500 grants totaling $10 million will be mailed out tomorrow.

Businesses affected by the current pause can apply for grants here.

“It is a very easy application,” Raimondo said. “Check a few boxes an we will get the check on the way to you.”

Those already approved for grant relief will receive a second check to cover the additional week, she said, noting that with the latest round of funding, that state will have allocated all of its federal stimulus money.

Raimondo also announced certain restrictions that will remain in place until after the new year, including the limit to single households for dining out.

“The name of the game between now and the end of the year is stick with your household,” she said.

Raimondo said she does plan to lift some restrictions starting on Dec. 21, with sports facilities and gyms expected to reopen.

“It has to be a slow dial up of our economy,” Raimondo said.

Raimondo said the full plan for the state’s staged reopening will be updated on within the next week.

The somewhat discouraging announcement for some businesses comes on the same day as the first night of Hanukkah – which Raimondo noted is a story of light prevailing over darkness.

“It joins a long list of holidays we can’t celebrate the way we would want to,” Raimondo said.

“Next year will be different,” she said. “It has been a dark year. The light at the end of the tunnel is quite close now.”

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