Above: Practicing moves at Mastery Martial Arts in East Greenwich. Space restrictions are easing at local gyms and fitness studios like Mastery.
Business restrictions lightened a bit
New Governor Dan McKee said Thursday he intends to prioritize educators for vaccinations starting this month.
“Biden set a goal to get teachers vaccinated,” McKee said at the weekly COVID-19 press conference, referring to President Joe Biden’s announcement earlier this week. “We’re going to adopt that as a goal to get a shot in the arm of all teachers and school staff by the end of the month.”
Department of Health’s Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said this would happen alongside the already-stated target of vaccinating those 55 to 64 and those 16 to 64 with preexisting conditions starting the middle of March. She said this was possible through a variety of changes, including increased vaccine availability from the federal government and larger vaccination sites.
CVS, meanwhile, opened up vaccine slots for educators on Wednesday, immediately following Biden’s announcement (find contact information below).
Locally, Supt. Alexis Meyer said she was very happy about McKee’s announcement.
“I am thrilled that Gov. McKee has prioritized teachers and school staff now that vaccine availability has increased. It’s been an incredibly challenging year for educators and families alike, but this is hopeful news that allows us to see some light at the end of the tunnel.”
There are three avenues for vaccination appointments: retail pharmacies (CVS and Walgreens so far), municipal or regional clinics, and state sites (more info about vaccinations HERE). The EG clinic will continue operating for a few more weeks, according to Town Manager Andrew Nota. While there are other options now, if you live in EG are 65 or older and have not yet registered with the Town of East Greenwich, you can do that HERE. The town will contact you if and when appointments at Swift Community Center are available. Otherwise, try these options if you are 65+ (or, at CVS, a teacher or school staff):
- To make an appointment through the state, go to vaccinateRI.org. Vaccine appointments are added beginning at 9 a.m. on Tuesdays and beginning at 5 p.m. on Fridays.
- To make an appointment at CVS (do NOT call your local store). Go to www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine.
- To make an appointment at Walgreens (do NOT call your local store). Go HERE.
Also Thursday, state Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor announced some easing of capacity limits at local restaurants, gyms and fitness studios, catered events and funeral homes as of Friday.
- Restaurants can increase to 66 percent capacity (up from 50 percent). This is where capacity was before the late November “pause.”
- Gyms and fitness studios can increase to 1 person for every 100 sq. feet (up from 1 person for every 100 sq. feet); smaller studios may seek a waiver for a higher capacity through the Department of Business Regulation if they have enough extra safety protocols in place.
- Catered events, including weddings, as of April, may have 100 people indoors and 150 outdoors. Pryor said there would be more information available at next week’s press conference.
- For funeral homes – where “restrictions have been severe,” said Pryor – new limits are 30 people indoors and 50 outdoors (the current limits are 15 indoors and 25 outdoors).
At the press conference, Department of Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green was profuse in her gratitude for the prioritization of teachers and school staff for vaccination.
“I want to thank the governor for really pushing this agenda. I can’t tell you how much this means for our community,” she said. However, with regard to returning all students to in-person school she declined to commit to a timetable.
“We will see where we are … part of our limitations is the CDC guidance. We hear that’s going to change, [but it’s] going to be hard for some districts without a lot of space.”
She also pushed back on the idea that Rhode Island was not strongly committed to in-person school.
“We have 280 schools fully in person and 99 are hybrid. Only 4 schools are fully virtual,” she said. “It’s really important for us to understand that the majority of our kids are in person.”
***ALSO: The Town of East Greenwich is looking for used wheelchairs for their vaccine clinic at Swift Community Center through mid-April. If you have a wheelchair your family no longer needs, call 401-886-8669. You can get it back later in April, or you can give it to the town for future use.***