No concerts, no parades, no large gatherings– Raimondo outlines what summer in R.I. will look like
Rhode Island COVID-19 cumulative cases surpasses 8,000, 12 new deaths
PROVIDENCE, RI (WLNE) – Gov. Gina Raimondo gave further guidance on what will– and more critically, what won’t– be permitted in Rhode Island this summer at her daily press briefing Wednesday.
“If you’re planning a large summer gathering– a Fourth of July parade, a music festival, a cultural event– you are not going to be able to have the event in Rhode Island this summer,” Raimondo said.
The governor said it was “a killer announcement” and that she had a “knot in my stomach” making it.
Raimondo said she knew the decision would have major impacts for the state’s coastal communities, which rely on big events like the Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals to draw in large amounts of tourists.
“It’s news that we’ve been waiting to hear,” said Lani Shufelt, owner of Chanler luxury hotel in Newport.
She said she will most likely lose all of her reservations related to the festival, but hopes other aspects of Newport’s tourism will make up for the loss.
Following the governor’s announcement, the Washington County Fair went ahead and cancelled for the first time in 54 years.
The guidance applies to weddings as well.
Raimondo said no one should be planning a wedding with more than 50 attendants for June or July this year.
Those looking to have a large wedding should make alternative plans, the governor said. She acknowledged the hardship the decision would cause not just for couples but for vendors and venues as well.
“A lot of weddings will have to be rescheduled and that’s tricky for us,” said Allison Barbera, owner of Allison Barbera Beauty. Her cosmetic company typically does 115 weddings a year, but more and more are moving to 2021.
“Our income has been moved to 2021, but a lot of our expenses are still here in 2020,” said Barbera. “It hasn’t been easy. It’s pretty scary.”
In a best case scenario, August may see a lift on numbers allowed at gatherings from 50 to 100, but Raimondo stressed that she was making no promises.
“We’re about to get into the phase where there’s going to be a lot of changes,” Raimondo said.
The governor said she hopes the state can enter ‘phase one’ of her reopening plan on May 9. This would see the size of gatherings increased to 10 people at a time, and some businesses opening with restrictions and social distancing measures in place.
Any decision to adjust limits on gatherings and businesses would depend on the residents complying with social distancing over the next two weeks, the governor said.
The governor praised the work the state’s congressional delegation has put in to securing federal relief funding.
“They’ve delivered,” Raimondo said of Congressmen David Cicilline and Jim Langevin, and Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse.
The governor outlined some of the spending designations for the $1.5 billion the state has so far received.
Hospitals and nursing homes would have to receive an immediate hand, Raimondo said.
The governor said the the largest portion of the funding– up to $1.25 billion– would reserved for aiding the state’s cash-strapped hospitals, providing supplemental pay for front line workers, and aiding the state’s nursing and group homes in the struggle against the virus.
Towns and cities would have to receive a share as well, as they’ve expended finances and resources to combat the virus, the governor said.
The remainder of the funds would go towards aiding the state’s small businesses, manufacturers, job training, and to unemployment insurance.
The governor said any plans are in the preliminary stages. She said an online portal will be made available so the public can monitor where federal dollars are spent.
Any decisions would be made with input from business leaders, the state and federal delegation, and town and city leadership, Raimondo said. The spending would also have to comply with federal regulations maintained by the Treasury Department.
On the latest figures concerning the state’s struggle with the virus, the Rhode Island Department of Health announced that a total of 8,247 people that have tested positive in the state for COVID-19.
The total number of cases increased by 321 cases on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) reported 218 new cases.
New data released on Wednesday from RIDOH indicates that another 12 people have died from COVID-19. That brings the state’s death toll to 251.
There are 269 people in the hospital with COVID-19, 80 of which are in the ICU, and 55 are on ventilators.
RIDOH reports that a total of 60,185 COVID-19 tests have been given in Rhode Island.