Newport mayor proposes plan to close some streets to promote social distancing

NEWPORT, R.I. (WLNE) – Newport’s City Council members are considering a plan that would close some streets and parking areas to promote social distancing.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said council member Jeanne-Marie Napolitano.

The resolution was proposed by Mayor Jamie Bova at Wednesday night’s council meeting.

“The restrictions of the coronavirus have led to an increased need for public space to allow for appropriate social distancing,” wrote Bova in her resolution.

Her plan calls for the full or partial closure of streets and parking, with allowances for handicap drop-off.

The closures would be focused in areas with a higher density of business.

“There are many streets in the city that may be closed to parking or to drivers that would greatly benefit pedestrians and to enhance the enjoyment of the city while traveling on foot,” wrote Bova.

The proposal is also aimed at helping struggling businesses.

“I talked to a business owner who explained he only needed four more inches of sidewalk in order to be able to have a table in front of  his business,” said council member Justin McLaughlin.

The only concern brought up at the council meeting was the possibility the road closures could cause a traffic backup.

“I think that part of this plan may need to consider certain hours of the day. Of course we need to allow for delivery trucks,” said councilwoman Susan Taylor.

The resolution passed unanimously. Now, the City Administration and Public Works Department will study the benefits and impacts of closing various public roadways to cars and/or parking and deliver a recommended plan to the Council for approval at the June 10th Council meeting.

Also during the meeting, the council voted to table a resolution that would make it mandatory to wear a face covering at all times if you’re on one of the busier streets in Newport, like America’s Cup Avenue, Thames Street or Broadway Street.

Categories: Coronavirus, Newport, News, Rhode Island