Merry Christmas! Now clean out your locker!

Yeah, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo has imposed a "two-week pause" amid rising COVID-19 cases in the biggest little state in the union. That pause begins next Monday, one week from today. Four and a half weeks before Christmas. Happy Holidays, y'all!

Gina's pre-Christmas blood-letting will hit the hospitality industry particularly hard just as workers, many still struggling to recover from her last shutdown, were hoping to make a Christmas for their families.

Beginning Monday, November 30, the state will pause for two weeks. Most colleges and universities will move to virtual learning. Bar areas, recreational venues, indoor sports facilities, gyms, and organized sports will close.

New England Cable News reports "indoor dining in Rhode Island will be limited to 33 percent capacity with one household per table. Retail stores can stay open under the restriction of one person per 100 square feet. Houses of worship will be limited to 25 percent capacity with a maximum of 125 people."

Rhode Island's two casinos will be forced to close on Sunday, according to Marc Crisafulli, president of Twin River Casino Hotel and Tiverton Casino Hotel. In a statement, Crisafulli said, "Nearly all of our salaried and hourly workforce will be furloughed upon closure and will be guaranteed their jobs as the facilities reopen," according to the Newport Daily News.

Furloughed means you don't get paid.

Most who work in the hospitality industry are hourly employees who often rely on tips to make ends meet. A good many head single-parent households. Some will struggle to provide a holiday for their children.

Gina Raimondo will not be furloughed for two weeks before the holiday. To my knowledge, Raimondo and her staff have not been inconvenienced one iota by her draconian lockdowns.

Merry Christmas, Gina. I hope Santa is good to Andrew and the girls. But for you, I hope your stocking gets filled with the lumps of coal you so richly deserve.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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