Are Rhode Islanders Ready for Phase 2 of Reopening the Economy?

Our survey, the Rhode Ahead, polled our online readership about reopening Rhode Island amid the coronavirus outbreak.


Via Getty

Via Getty

Many Rhode Islanders fall into two distinct camps: Those who want the state wide open, and those who’ll be hunkering down for the foreseeable future. And both are in desperate need of a haircut.

We recently polled our readership on their readiness to participate in Phase 2 of reopening Rhode Island’s economy. Beginning today, June 1, employees can return to work, children can go back to daycare and restaurants can offer indoor dining — all at reduced capacity. (Read more about Phase 2 here.) But just because the doors are open doesn’t mean Rhode Islanders will be swinging on in.

According to our poll, which was completed by 418 readers, the two ends of the spectrum are neck-in-neck on returning to work: 29 percent are ready to go back ASAP, while another 29 percent would prefer to wait it out until later in the year. Another 18 percent will head back when the governor says so — “Obey Gina,” indeed — and 24 percent would like to wait another few months to return.

In terms of child care, fun fact, a whopping 70 percent of our respondents don’t have school- or daycare-aged kids. Of the eligible set, 13 percent say they’re ready to take advantage of child care ASAP, while another 13 percent will send their kids in summer. The remaining 74 percent won’t feel comfortable sending the kiddos off until fall.

The majority of our respondents will return to restaurants to dine al fresco in the next couple of months. For hotel stays, more than 60 percent won’t feel comfortable booking a room until later this year or next year. Most are ready to shop at a retail store now, while a majority won’t be ready to travel out of state until later this year or next year.

But visit a barber shop or hair salon? About 47 percent responded: Get me in the chair, ASAP.

We also included an area for readers to share the first thing they’d do once the “new normal” sets in — which, you might’ve guessed, features a disproportionate number of people excited to get their hair cut; us too, readers, us too. Here’s a sampling of the responses:

  • “If it’s the new normal, I am not doing anything that risks infection. I’ll wait until it is actually safe.”
  • “Go to Pastiche”
  • “Continue social distancing until a vaccine has been found.”
  • “New normal better be the same as the old normal. Stop all the illegal restrictions of our freedom.”
  • “Go to the beach with a few friends, sit six feet apart and chat the day away!”
  • “Get married”
  • “Have a drink at the bar at Chelo’s with our friends. However, I will not do outside dining. Waiting for restaurants and bars to open completely without restrictions. Let high-risk people stay at home.”
  • “Try to act like a normal human being.”
  • “Visit my family and HUG them. Then get a haircut.”
  • “Pray that this never happens again.”

We also had some readers share their concerns about the Rhode ahead. Here’s a sampling of what they wrote:

  • “I’m a teacher and am concerned about being in a school building with 409 students and teachers. The inconsistent information on how this virus is transmitted and tracked is concerning to me. How this virus circulated in closed spaces worries me.”
  • “Gina has proven to be the dictator she is with her ‘allow,’ ‘rules,’ etc., instead of speaking to the populous as adults offering suggestions with the logic behind these suggestions. We are not her children, so speak to us as adults!”
  • “I think our Governor has done an excellent job at guiding us through this difficult time. She has projected strength, honesty, compassion and humility — all traits our national ‘leaders’ should emulate!”
  • “This is a very difficult time for all of us. Although we can’t wait to ‘break out,’ the fear of COVID looms over us — respirators, difficulty breathing, sickness and the political bickering are all haunting and somewhat debilitating.”
  • “We need to get back in the swing of things! This virus will not just disappear! We need to learn to live with it. Cannot stay in our homes forever!”
  • “People should do what they feel is best for them. Not everyone needs to agree on the openings. Do what is best for you and yours.”
  • “People can be very selfish about their rights, even at the expense of other people’s safety.”
  • “Retail shops that are never very busy should open fully — like furniture stores, mom and pop shops,
    auto sales. Libraries should open with restrictions. Beaches should NOT open other than for walking and the same for large parks. We should NOT allow visitors from out of state to rent properties for less than thirty days so that they can quarantine, and so that our markets and restaurants are not crowded by people from high-virus areas.”
  • “We’ve ordered more takeout than ever before. Hats off to the Providence restaurants that found a way to do this well even when they never had.”
  • “Let’s go! Hopefully everyone is conscious of distancing and wears a mask when appropriate. If we all take the right measures to keep safe, we should be able to open and get moving again.”


Have anything to add? Comment below with your opinions on Rhode Island’s phased reopening plan.