PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — “Cancel them.”
That was Gov. Gina Raimondo’s message on Wednesday to Rhode Islanders with Halloween parties planned.
During a special briefing on Thursday, the governor outlined stricter guidelines for the holiday, explaining that the state’s recent increase in new COVID-19 cases can be attributed to smaller social gatherings.
“If you do have a party, you could be fined $500 per person at your party and individuals at your party can be fined and the R.I. State Police is tripling its enforcement presence around Halloween,” Raimondo said.
Lt. Col. Kevin Barry tells 12 News troopers that on Halloween, troopers will mostly be responding to complaints into the state’s large gathering hotline.
“If we come across something we will respond to it there, but for the most part it’s going to be calls coming into the hotline where we have designated personnel that are just there for that function,” Barry said.
While troopers can break up a party, Barry said they can’t actually issue any fines. He said so far, they’ve referred four incidents to the Rhode Island Department of Health, but a spokesperson said they have yet to fine any individuals.
Barry said they’ve previously tried to inform people at large gatherings that they were in violation to get them to disperse, but now he thinks people should already be aware of the rules.
“I think at this point people should really understand the consequences of not social distancing and not wearing a mask,” Barry said.
Robin Neale, Care New England’s director of clinical effectiveness and infection prevention, said it’s when people get comfortable that the coronavirus spreads.
“When people get together, they eat and drink, right, well that’s when the masks come off,” she said. “And when the masks come off and you’re not socially distanced from other people, that’s when we can see transmission.”
Providence residents Juan Rosas and Susan Kennedy told 12 News they believe that due to the pandemic, it’s not safe to celebrate holidays like we usually do.
“It’s not just about me. It’s about keeping other people safe too, and I think we need to be a little more empathetic as a society,” Kennedy said.
“You can’t tell who’s safe, who has what, you don’t know who’s in your own personal bubble,” Rosas added.
While Raimondo is allowing trick-or-treating on Halloween, she said kids should all wear masks, remain in small, stable groups, and the event should wrap up before nightfall.
As for parties, she issued a reminder that the limit on gatherings is 15 people and if people don’t follow her guidance, they could be fined up to $500.
Raimondo also said she plans to put out updated regulations on Thanksgiving next week, but indicated on Wednesday that Rhode Islanders should re-think traveling out-of-state for the holiday.
Further guidance on holidays will also be posted on ReopeningRI.com.
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