NARRAGANSETT, R.I. – Summer home residents from out of state have been returning to Rhode Island’s coastal towns such as Narragansett to shelter from the coronavirus, and it’s got locals nervous.
In a press briefing Tuesday, Gov. Gina Raimondo acknowledged that communities such as Westerly, Newport and Block Island are seeing an influx of people from New York City, a hotspot for the virus.
“The concern I’m hearing from these coastal towns is that lots of people are flocking from New York City to their summer homes, and New York City is a hotspot, and they’re nervous,” Raimondo said.
She said it’s appropriate for town managers and mayors to take actions that will keep their communities safe.
“If you live in a small coastal community, by all means as a mayor or town manager, do what you think is necessary to keep your residents safe,” she said.
More than half of Rhode Island’s COVID-19 cases have involved domestic travel, Raimondo said.
The White House said Tuesday that anyone who recently left New York City should self-quarantine for 14 days.
Narragansett Town Manager James Tierney issued a directive Tuesday encouraging anyone coming into town from outside of Rhode Island to shelter in their homes for 14 days.
“The town is encouraging anyone traveling from out of state who resides in Narragansett or who is traveling to Narragansett to reside, for any length of time, self-quarantine for 14 days, especially those arriving from locations with a shelter in place order,” Tierney said.
“As this situation is evolving rapidly at all levels, we need the partnership and cooperation of all residents to help keep our community healthy and safe,” he said.
South Kingstown had not issued a similar directive or request as of Tuesday.
Narragansett and South Kingstown would typically see a large influx of residents at this time as students return to the University of Rhode Island from a week away at spring break.
But URI has told students to stay at their permanent homes and attend remote learning classes for the remainder of the semester.
Raimondo issued an executive order Monday directing that anyone returning to the Ocean State on a domestic flight must immediately self-quarantine for 14 days to reduce the spread of the virus.