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E.P. Council once again extends mayor’s executive authority to combat pandemic

Mimics governor’s powers as Phase 3 of reopening takes place around state

By Mike Rego
Posted 7/12/20

EAST PROVIDENCE — Coinciding with the governor’s recent extension of executive powers into the first week of August, Mayor Bob DaSilva once more sought at the group’s July 7 meeting …

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E.P. Council once again extends mayor’s executive authority to combat pandemic

Mimics governor’s powers as Phase 3 of reopening takes place around state

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — Coinciding with the governor’s recent extension of executive powers into the first week of August, Mayor Bob DaSilva once more sought at the group’s July 7 meeting to have his authority in East Providence provided to him by the City Council extended to August 5, or when the next meeting of the body is scheduled to be held.

The council granted his request as it has multiple times previously, maintaining his office’s broader powers during the COVID-19 pandemic, though Ward 2 member Anna Sousa peppered both the mayor and City Solicitor Michael Marcello with questions pertaining to the reopening of City Hall especially to the general public to conduct business.

Mr. Marcello said the administration is “looking very closely” at the situation at City Hall, but is not yet ready to return to regular, pre-COVID-19 activities. The solicitor said access to the building is “still by appointment only, but it’s working really well.”

Ms. Sousa said she is hearing from constituents who wish to go to City Hall to pay their property taxes, now that the fiscal year billing cycle is well underway. First quarter taxes were due the first week of July with the second quarter due by the first week of September.

Mr. Marcello said the extension of the executive orders was necessary because it continued to give the mayor “flexibility” to adjust to any edicts or changes that come from the state. He did note that probate and municipal court proceedings were back on schedule in City Hall.

“We are phasing it (reopening) in, but we’re also doing it to protect our employees and their safety,” Mr. Marcello added.

Mayor DaSilva also spoke on the subject, saying it was important to keep the executive order declaration in place as the city seeks to gain access to federal COVID-19 relief funding.

The mayor said the administration is submitting requests to both the state and federal governments for CARES Act money, adding he thought it was “too early” in that process to eliminate the state of emergency in the city.

The week prior, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced the extension of her state-wide executive orders to August 3.

The orders are as follows:

Face coverings: Face coverings must be worn in public—both indoors and outdoors—whenever six feet of social distance cannot be maintained. Exceptions are made for children under two years of age and anyone whose health would be negatively impacted by wearing a face covering.

Telemedicine: Health insurers must cover telemedicine for primary care, specialty care, and mental and behavioral health care conducted over the phone or by videoconference. Reimbursement rates for providers must be the same as reimbursement rates for in-office visits.

Disaster declaration: The state of emergency declaration ensures that Rhode Island has access to all the necessary resources to support our response to this pandemic.

Firearms: In keeping with a request from the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association, the Governor has extended the time period that law enforcement has to complete a background for a gun permit from seven days to 30 days.

The governor’s executive orders coincided with the following guidance for her Phase 3 reopening plan for the state:

Social gatherings: Social gatherings can be no larger than 25 people indoors or 50 people outdoors. For social gatherings like weddings where there is a licensed caterer involved (which makes the setting more like a restaurant) gatherings can be as large as 50 people indoors or up to 100 people outdoors.

Public events: Public events can be up to 125 people indoors or up to 250 people outdoors. Any organizers planning to host a group of more than 100 people will need to submit plans to Commerce RI.

Indoor settings: All indoor settings operating at a square footage capacity can increase up to one person per 100 square feet, provided that everyone maintains six feet of social distance. All indoor settings currently operating at a percent capacity cap can still increase up to 66% capacity provided that everyone maintains six feet of social distance. This includes places like offices and restaurants. Seated venues can open at up to 66% capacity, and free-flowing venues can open at 100 square feet per person, provided that everyone maintains six feet of social distance.

Travel: Rhode Island will implement a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone coming to Rhode Island from any state with 5% or greater positivity rate. (Positivity rates are calculated using the average daily positivity rate for the last seven days.) As an exception, people will not have to quarantine if they have had a negative COVID-19 test within the past 72 hours. (If someone is tested after arriving in Rhode Island and gets a negative result, that person can stop quarantining.) The list of states with a percent positive rate of 5% or higher will be published today on RIDOH’s website and will be updated weekly.

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.