- Associated Press - Friday, May 7, 2021

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Restaurants in Rhode Island are free to welcome more customers and the state’s houses of worship can welcome more of the faithful starting Friday.

Many businesses and other indoor spaces can now operate at 80% capacity under rules announced by Gov. Daniel McKee last month.

The rules also apply to retailers, offices, gyms, catered-event venues, funeral homes and personal services businesses like barbers and hair salons.

In addition, restaurants can operate at 100% capacity outdoors with 3 feet of spacing between tables.

If the state continues to make progress in controlling the coronavirus, most COVID-19 limits will be lifted by the end of May, authorities said.



The easing of restrictions on restaurants comes just before Mother’s Day, and McKee has repeatedly urged Rhode Islanders to make reservations for Sunday brunch and lunch.

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HEALTH DEPARTMENT DATA

The Rhode Island Department of Health on Friday reported nearly 200 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus and two more virus-related deaths.

There have now been almost 149,600 total known cases in the state and 2,687 fatalities.

The number of people in the state’s hospitals with the disease continued to fall, down to 113 as of Wednesday, the lowest single-day total since early October.

The number of people in the state who have been fully vaccinated has increased to nearly 429,000.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Rhode Island has decreased over the past two weeks, from about 327 on April 21 to about 212 on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins.

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PAWTUCKET CITY HALL

Pawtucket residents who need to conduct business at city hall will no longer need to schedule to appointment starting later this month, Mayor Donald Grebien announced Friday.

“As our COVID-19 rates have steadily declined and more and more of our residents are getting vaccinated we feel comfortable with this decision,” he said in a statement. “We have provided a vaccination to every city employee through the Rhode Island Department of Health process and want to extend our in-person services for resident accessibility.”

The new policy takes effect May 17.

The city was one of the hardest hit communities in the state, with more than 11,000 cases, and the fifth highest rate per 100,000 population.

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DRAGON BOAT RACES CANCELED

Rhode Island’s Chinese Dragon Boat Races & Taiwan Day Festival scheduled for this summer has been canceled over coronavirus concerns.

The festival is confined to a pier along the Pawtucket River.

“To provide the exciting event fans have come accustomed to, there is virtually no room to allow for adequate spacing of the dozens of teams that come from around the Northeast and thousands of spectators,” organizers said in a statement Friday.

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