The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation (DBR) today issued a press release reminding all businesses, customers, and residents about the need to follow Rhode Island’s COVID-19 health regulations this New Year’s Eve.

“While we’re all looking forward to the start of a new year, COVID-19 is still going to be with us after the clock strikes twelve,” said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH in a statement. “If you go to a crowded, indoor gathering where there are people you don’t live with on New Year’s Eve, there is a chance that you will either catch or spread COVID-19. Protect your household by only gathering with the people you live with on New Year’s Eve. A virtual countdown to midnight or a virtual dinner or dessert with others are great alternatives to in-person gatherings.”

“Business owners have a critical role to play in limiting or preventing the spread of COVID-19 by welcoming and serving customers in a way that is healthy and safe,” said DBR Director Liz Tanner in the release. “We want Rhode Islanders to have an enjoyable and safe New Year’s Eve, but we must remain hypervigilant in our fight against COVID-19, and that means fully following the rules.”

How to have a healthy New Year’s Eve:

  • Do not gather with anyone outside your household to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Consider doing a virtual countdown to midnight with others or enjoy a virtual dinner or dessert with friends and family.
  • If you do see people from outside your household, get tested for COVID-19. Testing is fast, easy, and free. Schedule a test at portal.ri.gov.
  • At restaurants, only one household can be seated together at a table. Customers must remain seated at their tables. No congregating, standing, or comingling of parties is allowed.
  • Restaurants must close at 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and 10:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Restaurant capacity is limited to 50%.
  • Bar areas must remain closed.
  • Customers must wear a mask when not eating or drinking.
  • All self-service stations such as buffets must be closed.
  • Do not drink and drive. If you have had a sip of alcohol, you cannot drive. 

Many restaurants are open for take-out service and delivery. Additionally, a list of holiday events, including virtual events, can be found on VisitRhodeIsland.com.

A full list of COVID-19 health restrictions for businesses is available on ReopeningRI.com. The COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force will be doing inspections over the holiday weekend. The COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force is a collaboration between RIDOH and DBR.

General information about COVID-19 is available at covid.ri.gov.

Messaging for people who have tested positive

To protect your household, you should:

Isolate right away

  • Stay in your room and keep others out of your room. Only leave for medical care.
  • If you have to leave your room, wear a mask and open a window.

Get support

  • You may be eligible for support to help you isolate, including food, housing, cash for essential supplies, and employment letters.
  • Call 211, choose option 6 or visit covid.ri.gov/whattodo for more information.

Get treated immediately: If you are 65 and older, have a chronic condition, or feel sick, immediately call your doctor or make an appointment with any of the online clinics below. You might be eligible for a new treatment that could be lifesaving. Treatment will help protect your household and could keep you out of the hospital. Call 9-1-1 if you think you are having an emergency.

  • Brown Telemedicine (BrownEMTelecare.org) 1-877-503-3598
  • Ocean State Healthcare: Urgent Care RI (OceanStateUrgentCare.com) Coventry (401-821-6800), Cumberland (401-642-2072), East Side (401-861-3782), Middletown (401-847-4950), Smithfield (401-757-6160), Warwick (401-287-4440)
  • Blackstone Valley Community Healthcare (bvchc.org) 401-722-0081
  • South County Express Care: Westerly, East Greenwich (SouthCountyHealth.org) Westerly (401-604-2500), East Greenwich (401-471-6740)

Inform close contacts

  • Tell your close contacts you are positive.
  • If you spent more than 15 minutes with them in a 24-hour period, they should quarantine for 10 days from their last exposure to you.
  • They should go to portal.ri.gov to get tested on day five or later of their quarantine and should monitor for symptoms.

Ryan M. Belmore

Ryan M. Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and serves on the Board of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and Lucy's Hearth. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.