Governor Raimondo considering a move back to Phase 2

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Governor Gina Raimondo is considering moving Rhode Island back to Phase 2, if our cases, hospitalizations and positivity rates continue to climb.

“We’ve been at this a long time,” Raimondo said during Wednesday’s press conference. “We’re getting tired, we’re getting fatigued, we’re missing our friends and family. And it is clearly being reflected in our data.”

The state moved to Phase 2 on June 1, and most close-contact businesses were allowed to reopen, and restaurants could use their indoor dining at 50% capacity.

While Raimondo hasn’t said definitively if she’ll move us back a phase to get control of the spread, she is announcing new restrictions on Friday.

“We have to keep our groups small and stable because we need to turn around this trend,” Raimondo said. “We’ve got to stop this trend and turn the corner.”

The thought of moving back to Phase 2 is worrisome for business owners, and especially those running restaurants. With colder weather quickly approaching, restaurants are utilizing their indoor seating now more than ever.

Currently, under Phase 3, capacity is capped at 66%.

For Armando Bisceglia at Bacco on Atwells Avenue, that means he can utilize just 16 seats.

“I think it’s disappointing,” Bisceglia said on moving back a phase. “If we follow the rules, and we’ve been following the rules, and everybody’s been working hard to follow those rules that were implemented by the state, I think it’s fair that we should continue to do what we’ve been doing which is following the rules and allowing people to dine at their leisure.”

He opened Bacco on February 21 and said moving backward has been a fear of his for several months now.

“It’s getting very cold, and again, we’re trying to work it out by, especially here on the hill, keeping the outdoor dining as much as we can… but on a day like today and a day like tomorrow, the outdoor dining is not really gonna help us.”

Rick Simone of the Federal Hill Commerce Association said moving back a phase would be discouraging.

“We do not believe at this point that it is something that should penalize or hurt the restaurant industry, and there isn’t anyone I know of that’s in favor of going to phase 2,” said Simone.

He’s asking Raimondo to reduce the spacing between tables to give restaurants a little extra leeway as the weather gets colder.

“Right now we’re at 66% occupancy. No one can reach that with 8 feet distancing inside. If we drop it down to 6 feet, most restaurants will agree to go to 55% occupancy and that is something that we feel, regardless of what’s going on with the case numbers, is something that is feasible,” Simone said. “She’s got a lot on her plate and we do understand that, but we feel that if she wants commerce to succeed in the public to have some freedoms then it is something that needs to be considered.”

The good news for restaurants on Federal Hill is that Al Fresco dining will be extended through the month of November, weather permitting.

Click here for more details.

© WLNE-TV 2020

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Providence, Rhode Island