Pandemic-related restrictions could soon be gone in Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Pandemic-related restrictions could soon be gone in Rhode Island.

That’s because Governor Dan McKee’s Declaration of Disaster Emergency for New COVID-19 Variants is set to expire on Valentine’s Day, which means any restrictions ordered under it would expire, too.

However, a new resolution in the General Assembly could change that. House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio have proposed extending McKee’s delta-variant emergency declaration for another 60 days.

The resolution is being voted on Tuesday afternoon. If approved, the Governor has the power to extend several executive orders, including the statewide mask or vax mandate, the school mask mandate, and remote public meetings.

Some businesses say, given cases are dropping significantly, they hope restrictions are lifted.

Luke Renchan, President of the RI Coalition of Wedding and Event Professionals, says the statewide indoor mask mandate has an impact on big events. Those under 250 people are required to mask up or show proof of vaccination and those over 250 people are required to mask up regardless.

“Especially now that the cases are going down, it’s time to review it and remove it so that there aren’t restrictions for our wedding and event industry,” Renchan said. “We’ve put two years of our lives on hold and a lot of these couples have done that. A lot of these events that have gone on, people have had to go through these – I mean, I’ve had couples 2 or 3 times I’ve had to reschedule.”

The Governor has not hinted at if he would keep the current mandates in place if given the power. Renchan says businesses have had time to come up with protocols and safety measures and that they are in a much better place than last year.

“We’ve come a long way. If cases do go up, sometimes you have to evaluate things, but I think our industry has done such an amazing job between testing and all the different things that have happened,” Renchan said.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Providence, Rhode Island