Hospitality industry faces new challenge with travel restrictions

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Visitors to Rhode Island are now subject to new rules, and it’s adding to challenges for small businesses in the hospitality industry.

Monica Hopton has been an innkeeper at the Christopher R. Dodge House Bed and Breakfast in Providence for about 18 years.

She says this would normally be one of their peak times.

“Slammed,” Hopton said. “Busy, busy, busy. Six to seven days a week, busy.”

But without summer events and families moving students in for school, it’s looking quiet.

“Tonight I just have a couple rooms,” she said. “Unfortunately all the events they were scheduled to come to have been cancelled.”

And now, another challenge: the governor is requiring that overnight visitors to Rhode Island present a negative COVID test or quarantine for 14 days.

Hopton says it will likely discourage some visitors.

“Our business depends on people coming through and enjoying our state,” she said, “And if not, then we just have to wait it out.”

The governor says hotels can turn away guests who fail to comply, but Hopton doesn’t see that happening, because she tries to explain the rules over the phone first.

“We don’t have people unbeknownst just show up, and have to deal with that,” she said.

The innkeeper is optimistic that staying diligent about safety protocols will reduce the current spike enough to roll back some of the travel restrictions.

“This week we’re in the corona doghouse, but maybe next week it’ll change,” she said. “Pray that there’s a light, and there will be.”

Hopton adds they’re now offering live music performances at the Christopher Dodge House to help motivate potential guests to book a stay.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Regional News, Rhode Island