if businesses can open up, why can’t the state government?



PROVIDENCE – Plans are underway to reopen the Rhode Island State House – at least partially – on June 1.

“On June 1, it will be a limited reopening based on the consensus of the incumbents. More details on this will be communicated shortly,” a spokeswoman for Governor Dan McKee told the Journal on Friday evening.

Spokeswoman Alana O’Hare leaked the plan after Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea – a potential main challenger to McKee in 2022 – released a fiery letter to the governor that said, in part:

“If we are prepared to say that businesses and their employees should go back to business, how is the state government not prepared to do it too?”

Gorbea asked McKee this question on Friday, the same day she announced that all State Department offices outside of State House would fully reopen to the public on June 1.

The reopening will take place at the Business Services and Elections Division at 148 West River St. in Providence, and the Rhode Island State Archives at 33 Broad Street in Providence, which currently require an appointment. .

“Visitors will not be asked for their immunization status, therefore, masks will still be required for anyone entering the Secretary of State’s offices and all employees interacting with the public,” Gorbea said.

“Visitors to the State Archives at 33 Broad Street in Providence should note that the building owner currently requires temperature control to enter the property.

Still closed – until the governor allows the public to return to State House – the Secretary of State’s Public Information Office, State Library, and Visitor Center.

“Today our state is in the process of ‘reopening’ so that Rhode Islanders and businesses can begin to get back to normal after more than a year of various restrictions in their daily lives. The “reopening” should also include state government offices on display to the public. Gorbea wrote.

At the moment, however, “there is no reopening plan for the State House or clear guidelines on mask requirements in the building. Therefore, I am awaiting direction from you,” he said. writes Gorbea to McKee.

In response, McKee O’Hare’s spokesperson released this statement:

“Earlier this week, the governor’s office convened representatives from the offices of the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer general, president of the Senate and the JCLS to reach full consensus on a plan to reopen the State House.

“During this meeting, the group came to an agreement on June 1.

Before an announcement was made, there were operational details that needed to be finalized. It is the highest priority of the Governor’s Office that every State House tenant participates in an inclusive effort to reopen the people’s home in a way that ensures public health. and security. “

The general public has been excluded from the monument designed by McKim Meade and White since March 2020, even as state employees have mostly returned to business as usual and public gatherings are re-permitted in nearly all locations. other contexts.

Asked at his weekly COVID-19 press conference on Thursday, when the public could return to the capital’s marble halls, Gov. Dan McKee hinted the change could come soon, but he was shy about what and when.

“I believe there will be an announcement about some opening of the State House on a limited basis initially,” McKee said. “These conditions are being determined now.”

House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi called a virtual Democratic caucus at 6 p.m. Sunday to discuss “the location of the House sessions to be held in June.”

Senate Democrats in their own caucus earlier this week decided to continue to hold their sessions on the Rhode Island College campus.



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