Photo courtesy of RI Commerce and #MaskUpRI

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Newport City Council last night passed a resolution (6 -1, Leonard nay) that will begin requiring that pedestrians wear masks between the hours of noon and 10 p.m. (with the exception of young children, or if wearing a mask would be harmful to a person’s health) on the following streets:  Broadway between Gould Street and Farewell Street; America’s Cup between Long Wharf and Memorial Boulevard West; Thames Street between Washington Square and Wellington Avenue; Bellevue Avenue between Kay Street and Bowery Street.

The resolution, introduced by Councilor Susan Taylor, states that that ample notice of the requirement, and opportunity to don a mask, shall be provided to a pedestrian prior to issuance of any fine.

The current cloth mask order from the Governor, which went into effect on May 8th, says “any person who is in a place open to the public, whether indoors or outdoors, shall cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face covering unless doing so would damage the person’s health. No person under two years of age or any person whose health would be damaged thereby shall be required to wear a face covering. Face coverings are not required for people who can easily, continuously, and measurably maintain at least six (6) feet of distance from other people. Face coverings shall also not be required of those who are developmentally unable to comply, including young children who may not be able to effectively wear a mask”.

The Full Resolution Passed By Newport City Council

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WHEREAS, Newport seeks to reopen our economy and support our businesses by promoting a safe environment in which the employees of our businesses and restaurants can operate, as we emerge from the shutdown necessitated by concern for public health amid the COVID-19 pandemic; AND

WHEREAS, the Newport City Council expresses solidarity with our first responders and our health care workers and desires to ensure and protect the quality of life for our residents; AND

WHEREAS, improving weather conditions are bringing a greater number of Newporters out of their homes and into downtown, in addition to visitors from other locations; AND

WHEREAS, it’s necessary to address these increasingly crowded conditions by continuing to show concern for public health on the streets and sidewalks and in the public spaces of Newport, in order both to reassure residents and encourage tourists that the city is safe for pedestrians; AND 

WHEREAS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that COVID-19 is highly contagious, that persons who are asymptomatic can spread the virus, and that symptoms may appear as late as fourteen (14) days after exposure; AND

WHEREAS, an individual’s respiratory droplets can travel for six (6) feet in normal conversation, and when engaged in aerobic activity the droplets can travel farther and linger behind a moving person for up to thirty (30) feet; AND

WHEREAS, it has become clear that the use of cloth face coverings is an important public health approach to slow the transmission of the virus, and that the wearing of masks is one of the best ways to ensure that our businesses and restaurants will stay open through the coming months, without a return of the high rate of infection; AND

WHEREAS, it’s impossible in certain public streets and public spaces in Newport to ensure that a person can successfully maintain social distancing; AND

WHEREAS, since March 15, 2020 the City of Newport has been operating in a state of emergency, first declared by the City Manager in accordance with guidance from the Governor, and twice reaffirmed and extended by the City Council to June 21, 2020; AND

WHEREAS, under RI General Laws Title 30, Section 30-15-12, the chief executive officer of each city has powers and duties with respect to emergency management within his or her city similar to those of the governor on the state level; AND

WHEREAS, in response to community concerns about non-compliance over the recent long weekend, Director Liz Tanner of the RI Department of Business Regulation reiterated that local officials could enact stricter requirements and/or do their own enforcement if they felt it necessary to encourage compliance, AND

WHEREAS, under subsections (2) and (9) of the RI General Laws Title 30, Section 30-15-2, the City Manager, as chief executive officer, may issue an executive order to provide a setting conducive to the rapid and orderly restoration and rehabilitation of persons and property affected by disasters, and to prepare for emergency health threats that require the exercise of extraordinary government functions, NOW THEREFORE BE IT 

RESOLVED, on Friday, June 5, 2020, through an executive order issued by the City Manager, Newport shall begin requiring that pedestrians wear masks between the hours of noon and 10 p.m. (with the exception of young children, or if wearing a mask would be harmful to a person’s health) on the following streets:  Broadway between Gould Street and Farewell Street; America’s Cup between Long Wharf and Memorial Boulevard West; Thames Street between Washington Square and Wellington Avenue; Bellevue Avenue between Kay Street and Bowery Street; and BE IT FURTHER 

RESOLVED, that ample notice of the requirement, and opportunity to don a mask, shall be provided to a pedestrian prior to issuance of any fine.

SUSAN TAYLOR

 IN COUNCIL

 READ AND PASSED

 _________________

 Laura C. Swistak

 City Clerk 

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