PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island officially has the green light to reopen, and it’s a day that will go down in history.
The State House lit up in green overnight as the state lifts many of its COVID restrictions for the first time since March 26, 2020.
Stores, restaurants, gyms, and churches can operate at 100% with no social distancing requirements.
Weddings can now have dance floors again, and funerals can include everyone who wants to grieve without restrictions.
Gov. Dan McKee said nightclubs will remain at 50% capacity unless all patrons can show proof of vaccination, then it can move to 100%.
R.I. Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott explained the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for those who are fully vaccinated but are hesitant to go back to a pre-pandemic lifestyle.
“Even if you are in a crowded setting, the understanding is you are protected,” Alexander-Scott said. “Even if you are around people who are COVID positive, once you are fully vaccinated, you are protected.”
McKee moved the reopening day by one week and was originally supposed to be on May 28, just in time for Memorial Day Weekend. He says this is all made possible due to vaccination efforts.
“It’s safe for people who are fully vaccinated, and we want to keep on emphasizing that,” he added during his weekly COVID briefing. “The vaccinations are what allow us to reopen.”
No masks are required by the state if you are fully vaccinated, but businesses are allowed to make their own decisions in regards to that.
State data shows about 60% of Rhode Islanders are fully vaccinated. As more people get the shot, the state is winding down operations at mass vaccination sites in South Kingstown and Woonsocket over the next two weeks.
The R.I. Department of Health reported 527,445 people are fully vaccinated on Friday, with 627,551 receiving at least one shot.
The data also shows 85 new positive coronavirus cases, with more than 8,000 tests conducted the prior day. The percent positivity came out to 1%.
One death was also reported, bringing the total death toll to 2,704.
Regional municipal sites, pop up clinics, and other existing mass vaccination sites will continue to be available.