Most out-of-state drivers stopped in RI are just passing through, police say

South County

HOPKINTON, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Since Gov. Gina Raimondo ordered troopers and National Guard members to stop all out-of-state drivers, Rhode Island State Police Col. James Manni tells Eyewitness News that the vast majority of them are just passing through.

The Rhode Island State Police and National Guard have set up four checkpoints along the state’s southern border, where all out-of-state motorists must stop and provide their contact information if they plan on staying in Rhode Island long-term.

“You will be asked a simple question: ‘Are you staying in the state of Rhode Island or traveling through?'” Manni explained.

Cpt. Mark Incze, public affairs officer for the Rhode Island National Guard, said the information that’s collected will only be used for contact tracing.

“What’s important is that we can reach them,” Incze said. “When the Department of Health does follow-up phone calls and we find out someone is not feeling well, we can track the spread of the disease.”

The checkpoints are set up at the Hopkinton Welcome Center and the Exeter weigh station — both located on I-95 North — as well as on Route 138 East in Jamestown and Route 1 at the Rhode Island Department of Transportation facility in Westerly.

Those who do plan on staying in Rhode Island for an extended period of time are ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Anyone just passing through will be allowed to continue on their travels without providing any information.

The mandate does not affect those traveling to Rhode Island for work.

“[There are] a lot of people who work inside of Rhode island and live outside the border, so those people are not going to self-quarantine,” Incze said. “They are just here for the day to work and go home.”

Signs leading up to the checkpoints notify drivers ahead of time to pull over. Those who don’t are pulled over and questioned by a trooper.

Manni said since Saturday, when the mandate went into effect, hundreds of vehicles have stopped at the checkpoint off I-95 in Hopkinton. He said approximately 90% of those drivers were just passing through Rhode Island while the other 10% planned to stay long-term.

Troopers are taking travelers on their word when they agree to self-quarantine but Manni said there are 3,000 members of law enforcement ensuring travelers abide by the executive order.

He also asked travelers to keep them, and everyone else, in mind.

“They’re here at work, they have families at home, they have children at home,” Manni said of the troopers and National Guard members staffing the checkpoints. “They’re working very hard to keep the people of Rhode Island safe. All we’re asking is everyone to obey what the executive order says.”

So far, Incze said out-of-state drivers have been cooperative at all four checkpoints.

“Everyone understands the situation that we’re in,” Incze said. “They are aware that COVID-19 is very serious. They are taking it seriously and most people really want to participate and do their part in combating the pandemic.”

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