PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Masks will soon no longer be required when outdoors in Rhode Island, Governor Daniel J. McKee announced Tuesday.
The new rule that takes effect Wednesday applies to both those who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus and those who remain unvaccinated, and is in line with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s decision to revise outdoor masking guidance for summer camps last week, the Democratic governor said in a statement.
Rhode Island's rule applies to outdoor live performances, youth sports and summer camps.
Those who have yet to receive a vaccination are still encouraged to wear face coverings in crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated. Close contact is considered less than 6 feet apart for more than 15 minutes over a 24-hour period.
The state Department of Health said businesses or other organizations are still allowed to ask customers or participants to wear masks.
Tuesday's announcement does not apply to indoor settings, including schools. Fully vaccinated people can choose not to wear masks indoors where permitted, but people who are yet to be fully vaccinated should continue wearing masks indoors.
Also, Tuesday, the Rhode Island State House reopened to the public on a limited basis. Visitors are still required to wear face coverings in common areas, must sign a log book and will be subject to a temperature check.
Some areas will remain off limits for health and security reasons, McKee said in a previous announcement. The State House will be open to the public between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
House sessions will also return to the State House on Tuesday, Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi previously said. Plexiglass barriers in the chamber will be removed and fully vaccinated representatives will not have to wear masks. The Senate will continue to meet at Rhode Island College.
During a news conference with Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos on Tuesday, McKee also said that:
- The state will partner with Fidelity Investments to open a drive-through COVID-19 vaccination site from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 5, at the Fidelity offices at 100 Salem St. in Smithfield. “A great opportunity for people who may have been concerned with standing in line,” he said. “You can wait in the comfort of your own car.”
- McKee explained the reasons for removing state Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green from negotiations with the Providence Teachers Union, saying his experience as mayor of Cumberland showed that it was best not to have “a decision maker in the room” during negotiation sessions. “I never sat in the room on contracts that I signed,” he said. “That doesn’t mean the commissioner is any less empowered than she was prior to. I just think it makes sense to follow good strategies in terms of how contracts can be negotiated.”
- McKee raised major concerns about Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza’s request for state approval for a $704-million bond to fund the city’s unfunded pension liabilities. “I think it’s rolling the dice,” he said. As mayor, he said, “I made sure there were actuaries that supported any decision made on our local pensions, including the police pension. I haven’t seen any actuaries that I would rely on. I’m not sure there’s time between now and the end of session to do that in a way I could feel comfortable with.”
- McKee said that while conversations continue about competing proposals to legalize recreational marijuana use in Rhode Island, a final decision might not take place during this legislative session. “You are seeing multiple versions develop very late in the session, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this is something that maybe gets carried over, maybe to a fall session,” he said. “This is one that I am very comfortable in waiting for it to work itself out.”
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.