NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — University of Rhode Island students renting in Narragansett this year will face a host of COVID-19-related executive orders, and local police say they are ready to enforce them.
Narragansett Chief of Police Sean Corrigan outlined those efforts in a letter to the community on Aug. 25 to allay any concerns residents might have.
“On September 7th the majority of student renters will be moving in and I know many of you are very concerned about the potential impact this may have on community health due to the current pandemic,” Corrigan said.
He went on to highlight some of the steps being taken to keep the community and students safe this school year.
Corrigan said the police department is working with the university and local property managers on an active messaging campaign to notify incoming student renters of Gov. Gina Raimondo’s executive orders and local ordinances.
“The Rhode Island Department of Health has been a partner in this effort to provide quality educational resources for the students,” Corrigan said. “The intent of this campaign is to give the student renters the information they need to keep themselves and the community safe. It is also intended to remind them of the consequences of non-compliance so that they may avoid any negative consequences of the planned enforcement operations that have been put in place.”
Last week, neighboring South Kingstown announced a similar effort to inform student renters about the new regulations that limit gathering sizes. South Kingstown is imposing fines of $500 on anyone found hosting a get-together of more than 15 people. Attendees at such parties can be fined $250 in South Kingstown as well.
In Narragansett, Corrigan said, additional personnel will be available to take part in operations that involve strict enforcement of executive orders, including civil fines or even criminal sanctions.
As part of the town’s nuisance ordinance, police will issue mandatory nuisance stickers for any gathering above the 15-person limit set by the governor’s executive order.
The town manager’s emergency parking ban, which establishes all parking restrictions as tow zones carrying a $75 fine, remains in effect as well. That ban was put into place at the start of summer.
“Many additional efforts are being made by our partners,” Corrigan said, adding that URI officials will be participating in a ride-along initiative hosted by the police.
URI President David M. Dooley and Vice President Kathy M. Collins will be escorted to local neighborhoods to interact with the student renters and remind them of URI’s code of student conduct, which includes an addendum for COVID-19 policies.
URI has also created a smartphone application called Rhody Connect, which is designed to educate the students on COVID-19, including required daily health assessments and health services contacts.
The local coalition of landlords and renters called Narragansett 2100 has started a URI student advisory council that includes participation from the police and URI.
“The mission is to work together with constituents to improve quality of life in Narragansett by incorporating URI students into the fabric of life in Narragansett,” Corrigan said.
Police also are working in conjunction with the state Department of Business Regulation to conduct inspections of local bars on busy student nights for compliance with pertinent executive orders. They also are providing the Rhode Island Department of Health with information on reported gatherings for contact tracing efforts, so any positive COVID-19 cases can be quickly isolated to prevent community spread.
Corrigan also said the police department has set up a dedicated email address for questions and concerns about any activity in town related to the COVID-19 health emergency. The address, Covid19@narragansettri.gov, will be monitored during the day by a command staff member of the department who will forward concerns to the appropriate personnel for follow-up.