Rhode Island’s plan to reopen is underway


WESTERLY, RI (WWLP) – Rhode Island’s three phased plan to reopen the economy is already underway.

Rhode Island has far fewer cases and deaths than Massachusetts, so they’ve already begun Phase 1 to reopen their economy. But, If you’re planning any trips there this summer, be prepared for a completely different vacation experience.

Changes are already being implemented at retail stores and restaurants to meet the state’s Phase 1 guidelines. This includes retail stores restricting the number of customers inside.

The Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce told 22News many Westerly businesses are weighing the decision of whether or not to reopen at all. President Lisa Konick said, “Clearly if it’s deemed a money losing proposition, then they have to make the tough decision that no one wants to make, and in some cases that may mean they don’t open at all.”

Rhode Island opened some state parks over the weekend, but the Misquamicut State Beach is still closed and will be until Phase 2 is implemented.

Now you can still walk the town beaches in Westerly, but as to when the much larger and popular Misquamicut State Beach will reopen is still unclear. When it does, expect social distancing measures to be in place.

As of now, travelers from out of state are still being ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days. That, of course, would not be doable for those who take day trips.

Executive Director of the Misquamicut Businesses Association, Caswell Cook Jr, told 22News, “You gotta do what they tell you. You have to self quarantine for 14 days, but how does that work for a day tripper? It doesn’t. So that’s why we hope the governor lifts that executive order so they let our friends from Massachusetts come see us.”

Westerly’s drive-in is still open since its easy to social distance in cars. Restaurants aren’t expecting as successful of a summer, they’re more focused on just surviving.

Two Little Fish Restaurant owner Timothy Brennan told 22News, “If we can salvage the summer then yes, it still can be successful. If we have to keep doing it like we’ve been doing it, then each business will have to adapt its business model to not really prosper, but survive.”

Coronavirus in Rhode Island

  • Total Cases: 11,614
  • Currently Hospitalized: 277
  • Deaths: 444
  • Total Tests: 95,239

Gov. Raimondo is allowing restaurants to allow outdoor dining, but tables must be spaced 8 feet apart, something that Brennan said just isn’t possible at his restaurant. Rhode Island hopes to reach Phase 2 by the end of May.

They have not set an estimated date as to when they’ll begin Phase 3, when almost all businesses will be allowed to open under new guidelines and social gatherings can increase to 50 people.

In order to move to Phase 2 and 3, Rhode Island must see COVID-19 cases decrease for two weeks, or have declining hospitalizations.

The R.I. Department of Health on Tuesday announced 14 more Rhode Islanders have died after contracting COVID-19, but said the number of residents hospitalized with the virus remains steady.

Stay informed on public health guidelines, status updates, FAQs, and other resources from the Rhode Island Department of Health. What you need to know >>

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