Weddings, movies, music on -- with masks -- as state reopens

Rhode Islanders can invite more people to their weddings, go to a movie theater or museum, and take in some live music beginning Tuesday under regulations for the third phase of the state's coronavirus economic recovery announced by Gov. Gina Raimondo.

“We really want to enable commerce so people can get their jobs back, but we also have to keep a lid on large group gatherings, and particularly social gatherings, because we know that's where the disease thrives," the Democratic governor said Monday.

Under the regulations, up to 50 people can attend an indoor wedding, and up to 100 can attend an outdoor wedding, she said. Understanding that some people scheduled large weddings before the pandemic hit, exceptions will be made as long as the state Department of Business Regulation is consulted, Raimodo said.

Musical performances are allowed to have up to 125 people indoors and 250 people outdoors.

Venues with seating, including movie theaters, are limited to 66% capacity, she said.

Outdoor July 4th events are limited to 250 people.

Everything remains subject to mask-wearing and social distancing protocols.

The rules announced Monday are somewhat different from what was previously posted on the state’s reopening website, reopeningri.com, Raimondo noted.

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OUT OF STATERS

People traveling to Rhode Island from states that have a 5% or higher test positivity rate are required to quarantine for 14 days, the governor said.

The rule is in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases in many southern and southwestern states.

People who can prove they have had a negative test in their home state within the previous 72 hours won't have to quarantine.

She acknowledged the rules will be hard to enforce, but the state will post them on highway signs, at the airport and at train stations. Hotel and summer rental operators will also be required to inform their out-of-state guests.

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TWENTYSOMETHINGS SCOLDED

Raimondo scolded people ages 20 to 29 for failing to follow mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines, which she said is responsible for a 60% to 70% spike in confirmed coronavirus cases in that age group in the state in the past week.

Surges in new confirmed cases around the country are also being driven by younger age groups.

“You need to know you are responsible for the possibility of an outbreak, more people getting sick more people going to the hospital, more people dying, more people losing their jobs, and our state going backwards as is happening in many of our other states. And you know what? There no reason this should happen,” she said.

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VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS

There have been 19 coronavirus-related deaths and 107 new positive tests for the disease over the past three days, the state Department of Health reported Monday.

All 19 of the deaths were people in their 70s or older and included one centenarian, director Nicole Alexander-Scott said. The number of people who have died from the disease in the state is now 946.

There have been nearly 16,700 confirmed cases in the state. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

The number of people hospitalized with the disaese continues to fall, with 73 patients in the hospital as of Friday, the latest day for which the data was available.

The first child from Rhode Island to be diagnosed with a rare and potentially fatal inflammatory condition in children that has been linked to the coronavirus has been discharged from the hospital in good condition, Alexander-Scott said.

The girl was diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome Thursday.

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SUMMER CAMPS

Rhode Island summer camps were allowed to open Monday under a set of rules that balance fun for children against the risks of spreading the coronavirus.

Groups of campers and their leaders cannot exceed 15 people, and they cannot interact with other groups.

The YMCA’s camps will operate at 20% of their normal capacity, Steven O’Donnell, the Y’s chief executive officer, told The Providence Journal.

Campers will bring their own lunch and snacks from home, and all campers and staff members will receive daily health screenings, and wash their hands frequently.