Beginning tomorrow (Friday, May 21), most COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted in Rhode Island.

The official word came from Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health during a press conference on Thursday afternoon. You can watch that press conference here.

“The number of Rhode Islanders fully vaccinated and those with at least one dose – more than 400,000 Rhode Islanders – puts the Ocean State in a strong position to reopen safely on May 21, a week earlier than originally planned,” Governor McKee said. “We have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to reset Rhode Island and I trust that our business community and neighbors will respond respectfully and courteously as we navigate this next phase.”
The provided guidance is safer to adopt for fully vaccinated individuals. Establishments may (but are not required to) supplement these rules with their own rules regarding mask wearing, proof of vaccination, testing, and other mitigations. Signage guiding expectations around the following topics is recommended at establishments.

This phase of the reopening timeline had been scheduled for May 28 but was moved up a week due to Rhode Island’s trending vaccine and COVID-19 statistics.

As of Friday, May 21, the following adaptations, by sector, will be effective:

  • No physical distancing is required
  • Indoor Dining: No restrictions
  • Bar Areas: No restrictions. Indoor standing service allowed; no plexiglass required
  • Catered Events: No restrictions: 100% capacity with no cap; indoor and outdoor standing/bar service/cocktail hours; open dance floors
  • Houses of Worship: No restrictions
  • Retail: No restrictions
  • Gyms, Sports, Recreation: No restrictions
  • Personal Services: No restrictions
  • Venues of Assembly: No restrictions
  • Funeral Homes: No restrictions
  • Offices: No restrictions
  • Social Gatherings: No restrictions
  • Pools: No restrictions
  • Casinos: No restrictions
  • Sports: Mask requirements remain in place for all youth sports, indoor and outdoor. The CDC has recommended this through the end of the school year because young people are not fully vaccinated yet. This policy will be reassessed on July 1st. Adult sports will have no restrictions and will follow CDC guidance.

In the following sectors that are considered “higher-risk,” CDC masking guidance for vaccinated individuals is especially important.

  • Live Vocal Performances: Status quo. Can move to no restrictions if vaccination proof is required.
  • Nightclubs: Remain at 50% capacity. Can move to no restrictions if vaccination proof is required.
  • Indoor Hookah: Status quo (not permitted). Permitted and can move to no capacity restrictions if vaccination proof is required.

There are three key sectors that are remaining status quo:

  • Healthcare settings
  • Congregate care settings
  • Youth and school-based events

Reiteration of Masking Recommendations

Who still has to wear a mask and practice social distancing?

  • People who are not fully vaccinated. This includes children from 2 to 12 years of age. Children younger than 12 cannot be vaccinated.
  • Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people in healthcare settings. Examples of healthcare settings include doctors’ offices, home nursing facilities, hospitals, and nursing homes.
  • Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people traveling on public transportation. No capacity restrictions. Other applicable state and federal rules remain in effect.
  • Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people in facilities that serve people experiencing homelessness, including residents and employees.
  • In prisons and correctional facilities.
  • Teachers, students, school administrators, and staff should continue to wear masks while in school and in school-based settings, even if they are fully vaccinated.
  • Both vaccinated and unvaccinated employees and customers of businesses that require masks.
  • In other states, cities, towns that have different masking rules that differ from Rhode Island’s rules.
  • Masking required for student catered events/strongly recommended for other catered events.

 You can make an appointment at www.vaccinateRI.org or by calling 844-930-1779. Making an appointment is the way to guarantee that you will get a shot. You do not need appointments to get vaccinated at the sites at Sockanosset Cross Road (100 Sockanosset Cross Road, Cranston) and the Dunkin’ Donuts Center (1 La Salle Square, Providence). Vaccines are also available at pharmacies throughout Rhode Island.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit: covid.ri.gov/vaccination.

Businesses looking for more information regarding reopening can visit, reopeningri.com. Print signage resources, reopening guideline charts, and masking guidance are available on this site.

Business owners with specific questions can visit, dbr.ri.gov or call and leave a message on the COVID-19 Hotline at 401-889-5550. A staff member will get back to you as soon as possible.

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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. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.