Governor Gina Raimondo expanded on the state’s phase 2 reopening procedures today, focusing on restaurants, retail and personal service businesses, and youth sports.

“Frankly, we have got to get people back to work,” Raimondo said. “Too many people have been out of work for too long and we’re compounding a public health crisis with this economic crisis.”

The Department of Health Thursday reported 22 deaths and 124 new cases, but hospitalizations and total cases remain on the decline. “It continues to be a good news picture for the state of Rhode Island,” Governor Raimondo said, citing the absence of case spikes as a reassuring sign to begin the next phase.

For the next month, restaurants will operate at 50% capacity. Patrons will be required to call in and provide their name and phone number for a reservation. The contact information of visitors will be forwarded to the Department of Health in the event of another outbreak. Bars and self-service stations at restaurants will remain closed. The state will continue working closely with small businesses to address needs for sanitation equipment and guideline implementation. Businesses are expected to observe the sanitation measures and enforce social distancing where possible.

COVID-related housing evictions continue to rise. The state’s emergency rental assistance fund has accommodated less than 15% of its 3,400 initial applicants, granting up to $5,000 per applicant. Today, Governor Raimondo announced that the now-depleted fund would receive an additional $5 million. Raimondo considers the funding only an “immediate next step,” as talks of a long term solution are underway.

Recreational sports are set to reopen Monday. Games will be limited to 15 players and masks are encouraged. League play and tournaments will not resume until at least July. Governor Raimondo hopes the return of organized sports will lift spirits, particularly among Rhode Island’s youth.

“I want to take a second to talk to the kids out there,” Raimondo said. “I know this is really hard for you guys… I also want you to know the summer is going to be good… it won’t be the same as last summer, but it will get a lot better.”

The Rhode Island Department of Health continues to monitor cases as the state plans to move forward accordingly with phase two.