Starting Friday, all Rhode Islanders must wear masks in public


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order Tuesday evening requiring all Rhode Islanders to wear face coverings while out in public beginning Friday.

The executive order states that anyone, “who is in a place open to the public, whether indoors or outdoors, shall cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face covering.” There are exceptions for young children and people with disabilities or underlying health conditions.

“Accept that we are going to live within new limits, which none of us really like,” Raimondo said. “It will prevent the spread of the disease and it will keep the state of Rhode Island safe.”

Her previous mandate only required the employees of customer-facing businesses to wear masks while working, with exceptions for those who can’t do their jobs with a mask on, such as call-center operators. It also mandated that businesses ensure all customers who enter their establishment are also wearing masks.

Raimondo said people do not need to wear masks while on a solitary walk or bike ride, though they should always carry one with them just in case.

“You don’t leave your house without car keys or your phone or your wallet, so don’t leave your house without your face mask,” she said. “Think of it that way. Keep it in your pocket.”

Anyone who doesn’t comply with the new mandate could be subjected to civil penalties, however, Raimondo said, “We’re going to be reasonable and common sense.”

Rhode Island Department of Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott said just one cough can spread 3,000 droplets. She urged residents to steer clear of anyone they see out in public who is not wearing a mask.

Right now, the mandate is in effect until June 4.

Social media campaign aims to stop the stigma of wearing masks »

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