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The weather is beginning to warm and the state is cautiously outlining plans to reopen the economy, but major summer events are not part of the picture. Governor Gina Raimondo announced Wednesday that all big gatherings -- the type that draw thousands of people -- will simply not be permitted. 

“My stomach is in a knot as I think about Newport, and Westerly and Bristol,” Raimondo said ticking off several municipalities that host events drawing huge crowds to the state. 

Already, marquee gatherings, like the Newport Folk and Jazz festivals and PVD fest have been cancelled. The Bristol fourth of July Parade will not happen either, Raimondo said.  

The Governor added that the restrictions extend to weddings; a blow to the state’s also-lucrative wedding industry. Smaller weddings, of up to 50 people, may take place in the near-term. Larger weddings of up to 100 people, won’t likely be allowed until at least August.

“In good conscience I cannot stand here and tell you that you’re going to be able to have those events in June, July and August, in the way that you had hoped to have,” Raimondo said. “So I’m asking you now to prepare yourselves to make alternative plans.” 

The first two phases of reopening the state still limit social gatherings to 10 and 15 people, respectively. State officials have already said that social distancing may need to remain in place for up to a year.

Rhode Island’s heaviest restrictions could be over in a matter of days. The state stay-at-home order is set to end on May 9th. However, Raimondo says that will only happen if hospitalizations are stable or declining, and the state has proper testing capacity. 

As of Wednesday, Rhode Island had 12 new fatalities from the coronavirus, bringing total COVID-19 related deaths to 251. The number of confirmed cases has now reached 8,247. 

“I think we’re probably in our peak now,” Gov. Raimondo said.

After more than a month of shuttered schools and businesses, and greatly increased demands on local healthcare systems, the governor said Rhode Island is in dire need of the $1.5 billion it received so far from the federal government. Of that, $1.25 billion comes from the coronavirus relief fund, a federal stimulus program to help state and local governments deal with the pandemic. 

According to Raimondo, much of that money will go towards paying for the immediate healthcare costs of supplies, workers and building out testing and tracing infrastructure. 

Raimondo said some of the money will also go towards rebuilding the state’s damaged economy. 

“I intend to allocate a certain amount of the one and quarter billion to help people get job training, people get back to work, small businesses get through the crisis, manufacturers, whatever that might be,” Raimondo said.

The state will account for that spending with the Inspector General and U.S. Treasury Department. Additionally, Raimondo says the state will create a public website outlining spending.

State lawmakers are also going to weigh in on the way the federal aid money is spent. The 12 member joint-legislative task force on COVID-19 emergency spending meets Thursday at 4 pm.

Raimondo said the current round of federal funding cannot be used to help cover deficits in the state budget. She said she’ll be looking for other federal funding to help shore up the state’s finances.