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Rhode Island Reopens Saturday, But Governor Warns ‘Do Not Try To Outfox The Virus’

An alteration shop advertising face masks for sale in downtown Westerly, R.I., is pictured here. (Alex Nunes/The Public's Radio)
An alteration shop advertising face masks for sale in downtown Westerly, R.I., is pictured here. (Alex Nunes/The Public's Radio)

Non-essential retail outlets are reopening this weekend under tight restrictions, and Gov. Gina Raimondo said she encourages Rhode Islanders to go out shopping if they can afford it.

But, she said, people need to wear masks in public places and remember to respect the five person limit on social gatherings.

“Do not try to outfox the virus,” Raimondo said at her daily briefing Friday. “Don’t try to outrun the virus. Don’t think you’re invincible. Don’t think you can sneak and not follow the rules and everything will be OK. We know that’s not true.”

With Mother’s Day on Sunday, Raimondo asked Rhode Islanders to learn from the lessons of other recent holidays.

“Look what happened two weeks after Passover and Easter,” she said. “More people wound up in the hospital. If you try to sneak around the rules, bad things will happen.”

Some state parks will reopen this weekend with limits on parking. The governor said people who can work from home should still do so under phase one.

She acknowledged Rhode Island is lifting its stay-at-home order ahead of its neighboring states. But, she said, the state is in a good position to begin a slow and deliberate reopening.

“That is so exciting that we’re getting to this first phase,” Raimondo said. “But just follow the rules.”

Under an executive order being signed Friday, the Rhode Island Department of Health will be given the authority to issue graduated fines and shutdown businesses that are non-compliant with the phase one rules. But, Raimondo said, the goal is to work with businesses.

“We’re not going to be out there trying to shut you down,” she said. “We’re going to be out there bending over backwards to help you stay open and to do it safely.”

She added, “But if you refuse, and you’re continually non-compliant, and you get fine after fine, we will have to shut you down.”

On Friday, the state reported 11 new deaths, bringing the state’s total coronavirus-related fatalities to 399. The Department of Health said 10,779 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Rhode Island.

This story is a production of the New England News Collaborative. It was originally published by The Public's Radio (RIPR) on May 8.

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