(AP) – Some businesses will be required to close and capacity at restaurants and houses of worship will be reduced for a two-week period after Thanksgiving to help control Rhode Island’s surging coronavirus numbers, Gov. Gina Raimondo said Thursday.
The alternative to what the Democratic governor called a “two-week pause” that starts Nov. 30 and runs until Dec. 13 is an overwhelmed health care system, the limiting of care and the opening of two field hospitals that the state is already having trouble staffing, she said at a news conference.
“I’m not trying to scare you, I am just trying to tell you the reality of where we are,” she said.
Her plan includes moving colleges and universities to remote-only learning, the closure of recreational businesses such as bowling alleys, movie theaters and casinos, and the closure of indoor sports facilities. College and professional sports are exempt.
Restaurants will be required to reduce indoor dining to 33% capacity, with only members of the same household allowed at a table, she said. Churches and other houses of worship will be reduced to 25% capacity.
“None of this is going to be easy and I really wish I didn’t have to do it,” she said. “I really had hoped to avoid this, because I know the financial pain that’s going on in Rhode Island right now. But I’m in a world of all bad choices and I’m trying to pick the least bad of the options.”
Child care centers are allowed to remain open during the pause as will construction and manufacturing, she said. Personal services businesses, such as hair salons, are also allowed to remain open.
Before the two-week pause kicks in, Raimondo asked people not to travel for Thanksgiving and to keep holiday gatherings limited to members of a single household. Acknowledging that many people have already made travel plans, she announced that the National Guard will offer rapid testing at T.F. Green Airport on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving. She said those who do travel will have to quarantine for 14 days.
“If we don’t do this, in three weeks we’ll have a full state lockdown,” she said.
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