Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo says she's planning new restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 but does not expect to institute the type of statewide lockdown seen in New York and California.
Speaking in a televised broadcast on Saturday, Raimondo said her goal is to contain the virus while still supporting “some semblance of an economy.”
“It's very likely that I will be instituting some additional restrictions in the next few days, but I have no plans to issue a shelter in place or total state lockdown,” Raimondo said. “The social distancing directives which I have already ordered are radical and are taking an enormous toll on this economy."
The Democratic governor previously barred gatherings of more than 10 people and ordered residents to work from home if possible. On Friday, she activated 1,000 members of the state's National Guard to help with testing and logistics. Raimondo said this upcoming week could be the most important time in working to prevent spread of the virus.
“This is only going to work if everybody obeys the directives that are already out there,” Raimondo said, adding that authorities “will not be shy” about enforcing her orders.
State health officials on Saturday announced that Rhode Island has 12 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 66. Officials said the patients range in age from their 20s to their 70s. Of the 12, three have been hospitalized. COVID-19 cases in South County now number 9, with 37 in Providence County, 8 in Newport County, 7 in Kent County, and 5 in Bristol County.
The health department also reported that 862 people have had negative test results, and results are pending for another 290. The number of people who are self-quarantined has remained steady at 2,500.
Raimondo and Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott also announced that the governor had signed an executive order Friday night allowing restaurants and bars in Rhode Island to include wine and beer with their to-go orders.
Also, responding to feedback from the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association regarding the current strain on their resources, Raimondo has signed an executive order extending from 7 to 30 days the time period in which police departments can conduct background checks for firearm purchases.
Raimondo also reiterated that while gatherings are restricted to 10 people or fewer, all nonessential gatherings, even if they are below the 10-person limit, should be canceled or postponed. The governor also encouraged people not to hoard food because groceries were receiving deliveries.
Health department spokesman Joseph Wendelken was asked Friday if the state planned to close barbershops, nail, and hair salons, as has been done in Connecticut. He replied that these businesses had not been told to close, in part because they generally did not have as many customers as restaurants, for example.
On the other hand, the Rhode Island Association of Realtors announced Saturday night that it was calling upon its members to stop holding open houses until further notice. The Realtors and its subsidiary, the State-Wide Multiple Listing Service, urged Realtors to use modern technology instead.
“We realize that Realtors will continue to receive requests from sellers for home tours, whether through open houses or private showings," said Chris Whitten, president of the State-Wide MLS. "It’s our job to educate them about tools like virtual tours that are available through MLS."