RI to loosen restrictions by Mother’s Day, no capacity limits by Memorial Day

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee announced Thursday at the weekly COVID-19 briefing that the state would be loosening restrictions by next month, and by Memorial Day, there will be no capacity limits or social gathering limits.

Starting May 7, outdoor mask-wearing will change from required to recommended with just three feet of social distancing, and all industries can increase capacity to 80% with three feet of social distancing.

Right now, most industries are still at 50% capacity, and some are at 75% capacity.

Starting May 28, all capacity limits on businesses across all industries will be lifted.

Mask-wearing is still required indoors.

“We know that they need that relief, again, we’re doing this incremental flexibility based on the safety, based on the shots that we’ve been able to get in the arms,” said McKee.

McKee announced there will be no capacity limit on outdoor dining, and there will be no limit to how many people can dine together at a table at a restaurant.

As for bar areas, people will not be able to order at the bar just yet but can do so at outdoor bars. Plexiglass can be removed for outdoor bars as well.

“We’re incredibly happy,” said Rick Simone of the Ocean State Coalition and the Federal Hill Commerce Association. “Right now, scaling up is a thing that’s concerning to us for employees, but overall, this is a huge, huge thing to us.”

Simone said, with Rhode Island beating other New England states on reopening timelines, it puts business owners in a good spot.

“As of right now in New England, we’ll be ahead of any other state. We’ll be ahead of Connecticut at this point, ahead of Massachusetts, so it really gives the restauranteurs, the retailers, the gyms, the salons a competitive edge,” he said. “People are already preparing. They’ve got a plexiglass date that they wanna take it down, they’re preparing when they can change their tables, add some more staffing… so they’re really looking forward to it.”

Stefan Pryor, Secretary of RI Commerce, said it’s important that businesses and people abide by the three-foot distancing rule, and said it’s in place because the virus is still with us.

“It’s not time to completely let your guard down. In fact, you should be very cognizant of your own situation and your household’s situation, and please get vaccinated to increase your level of safety.”

When it comes to vaccine hesitancy, the health department said it’s important that people know they’re putting themselves at risk by not getting the vaccine.

“Anyone who’s starting to embark on these activities as we’re reopening and you’re not vaccinated… engaging in any of these activities are high risk. They are intended for people who are fully vaccinated,” said Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott.

The state will be piloting walk-up vaccinations this Friday and Saturday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center and the Sockanosset site. To make a vaccine appointment and secure a spot, click here.

© WLNE-TV 2021

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Regional News, Rhode Island