Gov limits house parties to 15 people after virus cases rise
Rhode Islanders hosting parties during the coronavirus pandemic will need to tone things down.
Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Wednesday that she’s cutting the maximum number of people allowed at backyard barbecues, house parties and other social gatherings in the state from 25 to 15 people.
The Democrat also said the state won’t move into the next phase of its reopening plan. Instead, she said phase 3, which was slated to end Wednesday, will be extended for at least another 30 days.
Raimondo said she made the decision because the state’s infection rate is rising as a result of large social gatherings, particularly among young adults in their 20s and 30s.
She added that other crowd limits will remain unchanged. For example, weddings will still be allowed to have 50 people for indoor ceremonies and 100 for outdoor ones.
“We’re partying too much,” Raimondo said. “You need to knock it off. People are sick and people are dying. Your right to have a party should not infringe on their right to live.”
A look at other coronavirus developments in Rhode Island:
Ten restaurants across Rhode Island have been cited by the state Department of Health for failing to comply with regulations meant to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the agency said in a statement Wednesday.
The establishments were issued compliance orders after inspectors witnessed staff and customers not wearing masks, not practicing social distancing, and for not screening patrons for symptoms of COVID-19, the agency said.
Many were issued compliance orders because customers were being served while seated at bar areas without the necessary protective barriers in place.
Raimondo said the state will be publicly posting lists of non-compliant establishments going forward, and encouraged people to call the state’s tip line if they observe COVID-19 violations.
She added that if bars and restaurants don’t fall in line, she’ll be forced to take more drastic measures, including reducing capacity limits.
“Consider this almost like a last warning,” Raimondo said.
Rhode Island is still aiming to start school on Aug. 31, Raimondo said Wednesday.
She said the state will make its final recommendations for the upcoming school year sometime during the week of August 16.
All school district plans for reopening will also be posted Friday on the state’s reopening website, she said.
Raimondo said state and local officials are continuing to develop criteria and guidelines for the start of classes, but are “ready to change on a dime” if the state sees a rise in COVID-19 cases.
She said the successful reopening of child care centers and summer camps in recent weeks demonstrates that resuming in-person learning is possible, with strict guidelines.
There have been about two dozen cases among children and staff since the majority of day cares in the state reopened, state officials said.
NEW CASES DROP
The Rhode Island Department of Health reported 61 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, just one day after reporting a two-month high of 119 new confirmed cases in a single day.
The seven-day average of new cases has dropped to nearly 92.
The state also reported two new coronavirus-related fatalities, for a statewide death toll of 1,007 patients.
The number of people in the hospital with the disease was 74 as of Monday, the latest day for which the information is available, up slightly from the previous day. The number of patients in intensive care was up to 12 from 10 the previous day.
NAVY PREP SCHOOL CASES
Several new students at the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Rhode Island tested positive for COVID-19 when they arrived on campus earlier this month, school officials said.
“Fewer than 20” students out of 273 tested positive when they arrived to begin a 10-month course of study at the Newport school, retired Navy Capt. Mark Donahue, the school’s command services director, said Tuesday.
All students were tested when they arrived and most have since completed their required quarantine, he said.