Baker: Rhode Islanders can cross border for groceries, banking


BOSTON (WPRI) — Those wondering if they can cross the Rhode Island–Massachusetts border to run errands now that Gov. Charlie Baker’s new travel restrictions are in effect finally have an answer.

During his COVID-19 briefing on Friday, Baker said people who live near the border can cross it to shop and go to the bank as long as they wear a face covering, keep their distance from others, and go home afterwards.

Earlier this week, Baker removed Rhode Island from the list of states exempt from his recent travel order due to increases in the state’s positive test rate and cases per 100,000.

Under the order, anyone visiting or returning to Massachusetts from a state deemed “high-risk” for COVID-19 must fill out a travel form prior to arrival and quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative test result administered within the previous 72 hours.

Violations may result in a fine of $500 per day.

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Massachusetts Travel Order: List of requirements and exemptions »

A number of Eyewitness News viewers wrote into 12 Responds to inquire about shopping over the border, saying it wasn’t made clear on, like Catelin Stewart.

“I’m still confused,” Stewart said.

Stewart lives in North Atlleboro and travels to Rhode Island a couple times a month for errands and to see family. She says she wants to adhere to Governor Baker’s rules, but is still unsure what she’s allowed to come to Rhode Island for.

“I want things to be done the right way,” she said. “It’s just really not clear for us residents that live right on the border of Rhode Island.”

Baker conceded that he hadn’t read the specific language on the website.

Rental properties in Rhode Island say cancellations are rolling in as states ban Rhode Island from their travel lists. Stephanie Potts owns two rental properties in Wakefield and says she’s lost thousands in rentals during the past few months.

“Beginning of this week I started getting messages from people that have rented from us every single year from Connecticut and they said I don’t think we’re going to be able to come,” Potts said. “I’m going to lose 7,000 in the next three weeks simply because of other states now quarantining if people are coming to us and then leaving.”

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Travel/Beach Restrictions: Here’s what you need to know for RI, Mass. »

On Friday, Baker also announced the second step of Phase 3 has been postponed indefinitely due to a recent uptick in positive cases in certain parts of the state, along with some changes in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.

He said he plans to sign an updated order on social gatherings which would reduce the allowable limit for public and private outdoor gatherings from 100 people to 50, effective Tuesday, Aug. 11. Indoor events will remain capped at 25, and face coverings are required when there are more than 10 people from different households mixing.

The governor is also updating the rules for restaurants so that alcoholic beverages can only be served for on-site consumption if accompanied by a food order. Baker said his administration would also be cracking down on “bars masquerading as restaurants.”

Read the updated restaurant protocols here.

The Stop the Spread initiative, which provides free testing in 17 communities including Fall River, New Bedford, and Taunton, has been extended through Sept. 12, according to Baker.

He also said starting next week, town-by-town COVID-19 data will be published weekly to show the spread of the virus at the community level.

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