Rhode Island is eyeing a broad reopening of its virus-shuttered economy starting June 1.

Hair salons and barbershops, gyms and fitness studios, and a range of outdoor venues will be allowed to reopen as part of the state’s planned second phase of resuming normal social and business activities, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Friday.

State parks and beaches, public gardens, historical sites, zoos and even mini-golf facilities are among the outdoor locations that will open in time for the summer season.

The state’s limit of five people for social gatherings also will increase to 15, and travel restrictions will be largely lifted on June 1, Raimondo said.

Restaurants, which were allowed to begin offering outdoor dining this week, will be able to start serving customers indoors, so long as they limit capacity to 50%, she said.

And office-based businesses will be allowed to bring back one-third of their workforce, though the governor said employees who can work from home should continue to do so.

Safety guidelines that have become the norm during the pandemic, such as wearing face masks and limiting physical contact, will remain, Raimondo said.

The Democrat previously announced that child care centers would be able to reopen June 1.

Raimondo said industry-by-industry details, including what restrictions and guidelines specific businesses will have to follow, will be released Tuesday on http://reopeningri.com.

Until then, she stressed, social gatherings are still limited to five people and those coming from out of state are still required to self-quarantine for 14 days.



Rhode Island’s churches and other houses of worship won’t reopen at least until next weekend, despite calls from President Donald Trump to reopen them sooner, Raimondo said Friday.

The Republican president on Friday declared churches and other houses of worship “essential” and called on governors to allow them to reopen this weekend.

But Raimondo said she was skeptical the president had the authority to enforce such a mandate, especially after he’d largely left decisions about virus-related restrictions and closures to individual states.

She announced earlier this week that worship houses would be able to resume in-person services, with restrictions, the weekend of May 30-31.

“It’s reckless to force them to reopen this weekend. They’re not ready,” she said in response to Trump’s threats. “We’ve got a good plan. I’m going to stick with it.”



Another 23 people have died and 170 people have tested positive for COVID-19, the state Department of Health said Friday.

That brings the total number of deaths from the virus in Rhode Island to about 580 and more than 13,700 positive cases since the pandemic started.

The number of people hospitalized because of the virus also dipped slightly from Thursday to about 240, health officials said.



A former student is suing the University of Rhode Island to get some of his tuition refunded after the school moved to distance learning because of the pandemic.

Logan Thompson, a member of the Class of 2020 which just graduated, said in the suit filed in Superior Court on Thursday that URI deprived him and about 17,000 other students of “the benefits of in-person instruction,” including access to campus facilities and student activities.

The university said its reviewing the suit. Similar lawsuits have been filed against universities nationwide, including Brown University.



Bradley Hospital has canceled its largest annual fundraiser because of the coronavirus.

The Bravo Bradley 2020 gala was originally scheduled for June 5, but was postponed until August. It has now been canceled altogether, the hospital announced Thursday.

Last year’s event raised more than $770,000 for the psychiatric hospital for children and adolescents. Bradley has launched a virtual fundraiser instead.



The pandemic has inspired seniors at a Rhode Island high school to pull off a clever senior prank.

Students at Burrillville High School put up a giant banner in front of the school saying “For sale, abandoned building,” and directed anyone interested to contact principal Michael Whaley.

The school has been closed for about two months because of the pandemic.

The principal appreciated the humor. “Hmmm what’s the going rate ... great job BHS class of 2020!” he posted on Twitter.