Outdoor mask requirements dropped for all Rhode Islanders, including youths


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — All Rhode Islanders will soon be able to shed their masks when they are outdoors, regardless of their vaccination status.

Gov. Dan McKee and the R.I. Department of Health announced Tuesday that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people will no longer be required to wear masks while outside, including youths.

The new guidance will take effect on June 2.

“Fully vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals do not generally need to wear masks when outdoors in Rhode Island,” McKee said.

The announcement follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) decision to revise outdoor mask guidance for summer camps last week.

“This is in line with the CDC recommendations, people in areas of substantial or high COVID-19 transmission are encouraged to wear masks in crowded areas if unvaccinated,” McKee said.

The end of the outdoor mask requirement applies to all ages and settings, including outdoor live performances, youth sports and summer camps, according to the Department of Health.

Host establishments or organizations may still require masks, however, similar to the reopening guidelines, McKee added.

“That’s going to be, again, the individual choice of the institutions or the organizations that are running them, to set the guidelines,” he said.

The governor clarified schools are able to set their own policies regarding outdoor mask wearing for students, but there has been no change to the indoor mask guidance.

The Department of Health is still strongly encouraging unvaccinated individuals to wear masks outside when in crowded settings or during activities that involve close contact.

“We are still making the distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated, but it is a recommendation, not a requirement,” McKee said.

Since May 18, fully vaccinated Rhode Islanders have not been required to wear a mask.

On Tuesday, the Department of Health also announced more than 550,000 Rhode Islanders are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The governor said he has set a goal for 90% of Rhode Islanders to be fully vaccinated.

“We have not concluded the effort to vaccinate,” McKee said. “Right now, we are in the top five in the country for fully vaccinated.”

The first drive-through vaccination site will take place on June 5 from 9 a.m. to noon at Fidelity Investments in Smithfield, the governor also announced.

Since Friday, the Health Department reported there have been 95 new coronavirus cases, as well as one additional death.

The Health Department also said 49 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, of which 11 patients are in the intensive care unit and nine are on ventilators.

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