Restrictions on some businesses that began late last month to counter a second surge of COVID-19 cases in Rhode Island will be extended one more week, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Thursday.
Raimondo’s “two-week pause” that began Nov. 30 will now run through Dec. 20, the Democratic governor said at a news conference.
Certain key metrics used to measure the spread of the virus, including the hospitalization rate and the percent positive rate, have not declined as hoped, she said. She also noted that Rhode Island has the highest infection rate per capita in the country, something she attributed in part to the state’s aggressive testing program.
“If we continue to stay at home as much as possible for that week, for next week, I believe it will have the impact that we need,” she said.
Gyms, casinos and other recreational businesses, including bowling alleys, will remain closed another week. Restaurants will remain limited to 33% of indoor seating capacity.
Because the pause has been extended another week, business and unemployment relief programs have also been extended. She said about 1,800 businesses have applied for the program already, and $10 million in relief to 500 businesses is being sent out Friday.
An extra $200 per week in unemployment benefits for workers who have lost their jobs will be extended another week.
When the pause ends, starting Dec. 21, closed businesses will be allowed to open with limited capacity, and restaurants will be allowed to move to 50% capacity, she said.
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