Virus Outbreak Rhode Island

Server Katie Maloney, of Providence, R.I., center, wears a mask out of concern for the coronavirus while assisting patrons in an outdoor seating area at Plant City restaurant, in Providence, Monday, May 18, 2020. Rhode Island allowed restaurants to provide service with outdoor seated dinning Monday for the first time since the beginning of the government imposed lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Rhode Island is continuing to emerge from its pandemic-induced slumber, as some restaurants began offering outdoor dining Monday and Gov. Gina Raimondo announced that two state beaches will reopen on Memorial Day.

Raimondo said East Matunuck Beach in South Kingstown and Scarborough Beach in Narragansett will be open with free but limited parking to control the crowds starting next Monday.

Lifeguards also won’t be on duty, and concession stands and bathroom facilities will be shuttered. She promised other beaches will reopen in the next phase of her plan to gradually reopen the state’s economy.

“This is really a very limited reopening of these two beaches so that if you and your family typically have a tradition of going to the beach on Memorial Day, you can still do that,” Raimondo said. “We want people to go outside and get some fresh air.”

The Narragansett Town Council is slated to consider a resolution Monday calling on town police not to honor Raimondo’s virus-related restrictions as the traditional start of the summer tourist season approaches this weekend.

Some restaurants took full advantage of the first day of outdoor dining since the pandemic started, while others said they’re holding off for now.

At Plant City, a vegan eatery in Providence, general manager Steve Anderson said the restaurant was able to bring back nearly half of its staff and has set up 18 tables outside, including some under a large tent in their parking lot.

“It’s great. We’re coming into a season when more people tend to come into Providence to dine,” Anderson said. “Everyone wants to get back to some kind of normalcy.”

But Kevin Gaudreau, owner of KG Kitchen Bar in Providence, tells WPRI-TV he plans to keep his business closed for now. He said he wants to see how the new process plays out before investing in reopening.

And on Federal Hill, the city’s famous Italian district, neighborhood mainstay Venda Ravioli is among those waiting until closer to the holiday weekend to reopen.

“We’re definitely excited and ready for it,” said Alicia Iemma, the restaurant’s manager.

Under Raimondo’s plan, restaurants can have no more than 20 tables outside, customers must make reservations and dining parties are limited to up to five people.

Religious services

Churches and other religious institutions will tentatively be allowed to resume offering in-person services starting the weekend of May 30, Raimondo said Monday.

The Democrat promised more details about the plan in the coming days.

The comments come after Bishop Thomas Tobin, the outspoken head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Providence, took to Twitter in recent days to vent his frustration at the continued closure of worship houses.

Drop in cases

There were more than 120 new cases of coronavirus Sunday in Rhode Island, the lowest one-day total since April 4, the state Department of Health reported Monday.

The state also reported seven additional COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the state’s fatality total to more than 500.

The number of people hospitalized with the disease continues to slowly decline, with more than 230 patients in the hospital as of Friday, the latest day for which data were available, the department said Monday.

Mental health aid

The University of Rhode Island’s Family Therapy Clinic is offering free help for families stressed out by the pandemic.

The clinic’s “Keeping It Together” program is offering video or phone meetings with advanced masters-level students skilled in family and couple conflict resolution, parenting techniques and coping strategies.

Two meetings are being offered free, with followup phone check-ins upon request.

College grads parade

Providence College has apologized for an unsanctioned graduation parade that drew crowds of people not wearing masks and not following safe social distancing rules over the weekend.

Steven Maurano, the Catholic college’s associate vice president, said the students and their families “did not exhibit good judgment or the appropriate respect for the local community” on Saturday as they went through neighborhood streets.

The parade was meant to celebrate seniors, who received their diplomas virtually on Sunday. The in-person commencement ceremony has been pushed to Oct. 31.

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