Health leaders ask for respect as people, businesses may choose to keep masking up

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – As of Tuesday in Rhode Island, masks are no longer required in most indoor settings for fully vaccinated people. But that doesn’t mean everyone is ditching the mask.

Dr. Philip Chan, an infectious disease specialist with the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), said he’ll continue to wear his mask indoors.

“I have been and will continue to use my mask in indoor settings especially. Certainly, as a physician, seeing patients, keeping in mind that what we’re talking about today, the masking, the easing of restrictions does not apply to certain settings, including healthcare settings. But I will personally continue to wear a mask, especially indoors, and especially in places where I’m around unvaccinated people, potentially people who are more vulnerable.”

In an interview with ABC6, Dr. Chan said it’s important Rhode Islanders be respectful of people’s personal choices around masking.

“We need to continue to treat people with respect regarding people’s personal decisions to use a mask or if a business asks you to use a mask. Really the key is to just be respectful and remember that a person masking is protecting others around you. It will offer, of course, the person who masks some benefit, but it will also protect those around you. So, if someone asks you to mask, just be respectful of that.”

Dr. Chan said it’s a good idea for fully vaccinated people to continue to wear their masks in indoor settings around those who are more vulnerable than them.

“Even if you are otherwise healthy, younger, vaccinated, is you may still want to wear it, especially indoors, especially if you’re around people who may be more vulnerable and especially if there’s people around you who may not be vaccinated,” he said.

With variants still spreading in Rhode Island, Dr. Chan added that it’s important to stay vigilant and not let your guard down just yet.

“We want people to exhibit some reasonable common sense and judgement, so avoiding larger indoor gatherings for sure. We’re in a good place, but we still need to have a little bit of caution, especially when we start to open up.”

Masks will still be required in certain places like hospitals, doctors’ offices, nursing homes, schools, and on public transportation.

Also, businesses will have free reign to require masks inside establishments. Dr. Chan said businesses with smaller spaces will likely continue requiring masks.

“We’re all in this together. I do feel like we’re almost there, but just respecting people’s and employer’s, businesses, personal decisions to mask or not.”

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Categories: Coronavirus, News, Regional News, Rhode Island