‘It’s been a long time coming’: Capacity limits across all industries to increase Friday

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Friday marks one of two key dates in the state’s reopening, as capacity limits increase to 80% across all industries.

Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health held the weekly COVID briefing Thursday, where Dr. Phillip Chan said we’re in a good place.

“Things continue to get better, and I remain cautiously optimistic, in fact, Rhode Island is in a very good place. We still have some work to do, but we’re in a very good place and I can see a path forward,” he said.

Due to cases declining and vaccination rates climbing, all industries in the state can increase capacity to 80% with three feet of social distancing starting on Friday, May 7.

“This weekend, establishments can do up to 80% capacity and we continue to make these incremental changes as we lead up to Memorial Day,” said McKee.

With the capacity limits increasing days before Mother’s Day, it’s a welcome relief to restaurant owners.

“We’re super excited that we got the 80%, 3 feet rule back in. It’s been a long time coming and we’re very very grateful and happy,” said Alex Tomasso, owner of The George on Washington.

Tomasso can now add more seating in his dining room, and he said he’s already booked solid for Mother’s Day.

“Well it’s a handful of people, whether it be 10, 15, or 20 people times three or four turnovers, so it’s a very good increase in revenue that we desperately need.”

On May 28, in time for Memorial Day weekend, all capacity limits on businesses across all industries will be lifted. Mask-wearing will still be required in public indoor spaces.

There will be no capacity limits on outdoor dining, McKee said, and there will be no limit to how many people can dine together at a table at a restaurant.

As for bar areas, people will not be able to order at the bar just yet but can do so at outdoor bars. Plexiglass can be removed for outdoor bars as well.

Bus as restrictions ease, restaurants are still struggling to find employees. That’s why they’re asking for people’s patience as the economy starts to reopen.

“We really need the guests to understand, whether it’s Mother’s Day or going into the holiday weekend at the end of the month, we need the guest’s patience right now because there is a staffing shortage,” said Rick Simone, the founder of the Ocean State Coalition.

“The employee situation is worse than ever,” added Tomasso. “I might be washing dishes on Mother’s Day but that’s ok!”

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Categories: Coronavirus, News, Regional News, Rhode Island