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Gov. Raimondo reveals new rules for gyms, fitness centers

Governor also envisions return of youth sports this summer - with limits


Gov. Gina Raimondo continued her preview of what Phase 2 re-openings will look like in Rhode Island come June 1 with a focus on gyms and fitness centers at her Wednesday afternoon briefing.

And, in response to those becoming restless about the resumption of youth sports, she promised that youth sports will return this summer — although they will likely be different than what participants are accustomed to.

Also, the governor reported that the past 24 hours saw 143 new cases of coronavirus in the Ocean State, and 21 more deaths, bringing the state’s total to 655 fatalities.

Of those deaths, one was in their 50s, one in their 60s, three in their 70s, nine in their 80s, and seven in their 90s. Sixteen of the 21 were residents of long-term care facilities. And all, said Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, were precious to their loved ones.

There are currently 218 people hospitalized with 49 in intensive care and 35 on ventilators, numbers that continue to decline and have dropped 40 percent since May 1.

Gyms and fitness centers

Gym and fitness center guidelines were posted to this morning, she said, and were promptly revised a bit after many owners of those facilities called with feedback.

Highlights of the Phase 2 gym rules, which she said were prepared in consultation with gym owners, include …

• Gyms and fitness centers are encouraged to use reservation systems;

• Participants of gym classes are urged to stay in the same class with the same people;

• Locker rooms will not be open;

• Equipment will be thoroughly cleaned between uses;

• Close-contact activities like boxing and wrestling will not be allowed in this phase;

• Gym attendees should maintain social distancing and wear cloth masks. The governor said she realizes that some will say that masks and strenuous activity don’t go well together but added that there are masks especially designed for hard exercise, such as running on treadmills. And those who do not wear masks must stay at least 14 feet from others, she said, citing research showing that the virus can be spread nearly that far by someone breathing hard during exercise.

• Outdoor activity is preferred, the governor said. While she said she does not go to a gym or fitness center herself, she would feel safe doing so in this next phase if the new rules are observed.

Youth sports

A reporter asked the governor to respond to a presentation prepared by the Rumford Little League that presents detailed proposals and research on ways that youth team sports could resume.

She said her administration has been in touch with youth leagues and coaches as it works to prepare guidelines. “We want to enable youth sports,” she said, but are also aware that the Centers for Disease Controls so far recommends against allowing competitive sports.

“I am allowing camps and sports camps,” she said and youth sports will happen this summer, perhaps not with the same rules as before. And remember, she added, this is all temporary.

Indoor dining next

A similar preview will be offered at tomorrow’s meeting on guidelines for reopening dine-in capabilities for restaurants in Phase 2.

And rules for reopening salons and barbershops should be posted on tonight or early tomorrow — feedback to both is welcome, she said.

 Ahead of our neighbors

Rhode Island is “ahead of our neighbors and really everyone in our region” in the pace with which it is reopening businesses, the governor said. “Why? Because I trust you."

She said that the Phase 1 reopening has not produced large crowds and that most people are wearing masks when going into businesses, which is why there has not been a spike in new cases at the two-week mark of Phase 1. 

 Help for the grieving

Gov. Raimondo announced a new resource being offered by the American Red Cross of Rhode Island for people who have lost loved ones The Family Assistance Center is a support hub with information and referrals on topics including coping with grief, virtual memorial services, legal help and more. Visit\vfac or call 833-492-0094.

Second wave?

Asked about preparations to protect nursing homes from a second wave of the virus, Gov. Raimondo replied, “I don’t necessarily agree with those who say there will be a second wave." She cited Dr. Anthony Fauci who said that another wave may not happen, “if we do everything right.”

“Yes we are planning,” she said, “but I don’t think it is inevitable."

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.