The outdoor mask mandate goes away May 7
Gov. Dan McKee announced plans to speed up the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, with businesses able to open at 80 percent capacity May 7 and 100 percent capacity May 28 – with three-foot distancing and masks indoors. The outdoor mask restriction will end May 7.
“It’s a little early to put up that Mission Accomplished sign but we’re getting ready to order that sign,” McKee said at his weekly virus briefing Thursday.
The state’s virus percent positivity rate was 1.6. On Thursday, 140 people were in the hospital with COVID-19 and there were 2 additional deaths. The state has seen 2,660 virus deaths during the pandemic.
More than 500,000 people have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, with one-third of Rhode Islanders fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, the state continues to have more vaccine available, including around 12,000 new appointments that will open tomorrow. It is now possible some days to book a same-day vaccine appointment.
McKee said the sped-up timeline was due to both the vaccination rate and the continued decline in the number of virus cases and hospitalizations.
He and other officials at the briefing, including Department of Health’s Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, spoke of the importance of getting the vaccine.
“I do really want to emphasize that the changes … are really geared towards people who are fully vaccinated,” said Alexander-Scott. Fully vaccinated, she said, means two weeks after your final vaccine dose.
The new capacity guidelines are across all venues, according to Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor – including restaurants, houses of worship, retail stores, gyms and salons. Bars will be able to get rid of plexiglass on May 28 but standing service will only be allowed at outside bars. For catered events, capacity will be 200 people indoors and 500 outdoors and testing for attendees of catered events will no longer be required. At larger venues, the capacity will be 500 people indoors and no cap outdoors.
“It’s not time to completely let your guard down,” said Pryor. “Please get vaccinated to increase your level of safety.”
“This means it will be a wonderful summer for catered events,” said McKee.