Following nearly three weeks of declining infection rates despite loosened regulations, Governor Gina Raimondo unveiled plans Friday for Phase 3 of Rhode Island’s reopening. Barring complications, the next stage will likely begin when the Phase 2 executive order expires on June 29, Raimondo said.

“We could be living with coronavirus for a year or more. So slowly I want to get out of the business of telling everyone exactly what to do and exactly how to do it,” Raimondo said. “But rather, to provide you with guidelines ⁠— and leading from a place of trust and confidence that you’re going to live within those guidelines, follow the rules, and reduce the risk.”

Under the new rules, the state will allow social gatherings, such as weddings and parties, with up to 75 people indoors and 150 people outdoors. There will be no cap on the number of people permitted in outdoor places of public interaction, such as beaches and parks. 

Municipalities and outdoor venues planning events that may attract more than 250 people are asked to submit a plan for approval. These types of large public events are still not recommended, Raimondo said.

Restaurants will be able to continue serving customers indoors, soon at 66% of their normal capacity. Most retail stores will be permitted to accommodate up to one person per 100 square feet of space.

In the next stage of reopening, childcare providers can begin supervising children in stable groups of twenty ⁠— a marked increase from Phase 2, which called for groups of 10 or fewer. Gov. Raimondo said she will make an announcement next week concerning youth and adult sports during Phase 3.

The Department of Health also anticipates releasing information next week on how to resume restricted nursing home visitations during Phase 3.

To those of you who have been hanging on for all these months without visiting a loved one in a nursing home, hope is on the way for Phase 3,” Raimondo said.

During Friday’s briefing, the Governor shared preliminary plans for how the districts will reopen public schools on August 31. She said this guidance would be posted by the end of Friday at reopeningri.com.

“We never had to go through anything like this when we were growing up. And it’s pretty incredible what you’ve done. And next year is going to be better than this past year,” Raimondo said, taking a moment during her remarks to directly address Rhode Island’s students.

The Governor also emphasized the struggles of Rhode Island’s undocumented residents. She concluded her planned remarks by announcing a charitable fund dedicated to supporting undocumented families ⁠— many of whom have been financially hurt by the coronavirus pandemic but are ineligible for federal aid.

The collection is called the “weR1 Fund” and has a goal of raising $3 million. This money will be distributed in $400 amounts to undocumented families. On Friday afternoon during the press conference, Governor Raimondo said the fund had already raised $600,000.