RI businesses unsure how to handle changes to mask mandate

Coronavirus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Beginning Tuesday, Gov. Dan McKee said fully vaccinated Rhode Islanders will no longer need to wear a mask in public.

He said those who are immunized have earned the right to go maskless.

“It’s a wake up call for everybody that has been unvaccinated to actually take [advantage] of the opportunities,” McKee said. “There are plenty and we’re making it very convenient for people who haven’t been vaccinated.”

But business owners across the state, including Homestyle’s Lisa Paratore, are asking McKee for further clarification prior to the lifting of the mask mandate.

“When I am given surety that retail is permitted to allow customers to come in unmasked and it’s documented, then we will go ahead and make that change, but I don’t think the governor has been 100% clear about where it does and does not apply,” she said.

Paratore said there are several other restrictions that remain in place for businesses, which include capacity limits and cleaning logs. She hopes that, when her gift shop does drop the mask requirement, her customers will be honest.

“We have to trust that our customers are going to have the integrity to be honest about that and that’s not just true of this place of business it’s true of every place of business,” Paratore said.

While Paratore plans to wait it out, other businesses are dropping their mask requirements, including Brewed Awakenings.

Owner David Levesque said starting Tuesday, all five of his locations will begin following the guidelines put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week.

“We’re going to follow those guidelines, we’re not requiring anybody to wear a mask,” he said. “We’ve already notified our team.”

Levesque said he doesn’t plan on checking customers for proof of vaccination.

“We’re not going to police it with people,” Levesque said. “We’re going to let people come in and be as free as they should be based on their rights.”

McKee is expected to provide further clarification for businesses later this week.

“I would say to businesses, take advantage of the opportunity,” he said. “Fully take advantage of the opportunity and help us get everyone vaccinated.”

The state will also lift capacity limits on businesses this Friday, although three feet of spacing will still be required for indoor settings.

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