Governor Gina Raimondo said the three-week economic “pause” will lift on Monday, but she implored residents to continue to limit social gatherings to their own households through Christmas.

Gyms, casinos and indoor recreation facilities will reopen and restaurants will be allowed to increase their capacity to 50%, Raimondo said, as the state begins to slowly “dial up” the economy.  (The new rules starting Monday are posted on reopeningri.com.)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week reported that Rhode Island had the highest per capita infection rate in the country. But Raimondo cited data showing the number of new cases is declining and hospitalizations are leveling off.

“A month ago I stressed we were at risk of completely overwhelming our hospital system by the end of the year, but that is no longer a risk,’’ Raimondo said. “Frankly, we know why that is. It's because we hit the pause button, and Rhode Islanders listened…”

Raimondo cautioned, however, there is “no certainty” about what the next phase will be, adding, “how we will behave over the holidays is a huge factor.’’ 

Raimondo urged all residents to get tested for COVID-18 before and after the holidays. Tests are free for all residents. (To sign up go to portal.ri.gov.) Starting this weekend through the holidays, Raimondo said, the state also will host “pop up” testing sites around the state including at shopping malls, gyms and Stop & Shop supermarkets. The free, rapid tests will provide results within about 15 minutes, she said. No appointment is needed. Raimondo said the state hopes to perform 20,000 tests at these sites.

Rhode Island has received nearly 10,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine which have been distributed to hospitals to vaccinate health care workers, said Dr. Philip A. Chan, an infectious disease specialist and medical director for the state health department. State health officials expect to receive nearly 7,000 more doses next week. 

Chan said that Rhode Island is expected to get about 19,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine next week, which the Food and Drug Administration approved Friday for emergency use.

Rhode Island plans to begin vaccinating nursing home staff and residents on Dec. 28.

-- Health reporter Lynn Arditi can be reached at larditi@thepublicsradio.org