On Tuesday, May Seventh, Governor Gina Raimondo announced that she would be lifting the current stay-at-home order come the weekend. This decision comes in light of the infection and death rate slowing down in Rhode Island.
Before going into the details of what will be changing with the stay-at-home order lifted, it should be explained that this does not mean that the ban on social gatherings of over five people is to be lifted as well. The governor explained that this will not occur until at least the Twenty-second of May.
With phase one of reopening the state beginning over the weekend, this means that certain nonessential retail businesses will be able to open under limited capacity and with greater health and social distancing standards. This is on top of the now state-mandated order for people to wear face masks in public spaces. Close-distance services, such as barber shops, will not be reopening until the second phase of reopening, which will most likely begin on the Twenty-Second.
Additionally, office buildings and churches will begin to open up, again, with limited occupancy and social distancing being required. Funerals will also be able to take place, with an occupancy limit of ten people-- one of the more notable exceptions to the five person gathering rule.
Some state parks will also be opening up, though with limited parking. Of course, the five person gathering rule is expected to be followed in the parks. Even as more places are beginning to open up, and while the governor does see this as necessary to stimulate the economy, it is also emphasized that “the goal is to limit networks” meaning that the main goal is to still prevent the spread of the virus.
Not all aspects which are a part of the phase one plan will begin immediately. For instance, there are still talks about allowing outside dining to be able to take place so long as health codes are strictly followed; however, the specific procedures are still being discussed.
What the government will be looking for during the following weeks of phase one will be if cases continue to decline, as they have for the past few weeks. On Tuesday, May Fifth, only 25 people were admitted to the hospitals due to COVID-19, the lowest number since April Nineteenth.
Yet, it is not just a decrease in cases that will ensure the state’s ability to move on to the next stages. Other key factors that will mark the state being able to move on will include the increase of materials in the stockpile, making sure hospitals have the necessary resources, and better tracking of people who have been infected, or who may have been infected.