Social media posts show lack of COVID-19 compliance from Block Island tourists

South County

NEW SHOREHAM, R.I. (WPRI) — Videos and pictures have been popping up on social media showing a lack of social distancing and mask compliance from tourists to Block Island and locals say they are fed up with it.

The executive director of the Block Island Tourism Council, Jessica Willi, says the rule-breaking has been noticeable all summer on both the ferries and on the island.

“It’s a bummer,” Willi said. “A lot of it’s happening on the street, at the beach, sort of in public places. Just people in general behaving badly.”

She says she has noticed good compliance with businesses when it comes to COVID-19 regulations, but says visitors have been littering, congregating in large groups, and walking on protected areas, such as the island’s sand dunes.

Gov. Gina Raimondo met with her community mitigation team on Tuesday to discuss Block Island’s summer issues.

“We need to do better on Block Island,” the governor said at her weekly briefing Wednesday. “We need to put more resources, more inspectors on Block Island, and I might even have to take some action.”

The Block Island Tourism Council voted in March to stop all paid advertising that encourages visitors. Willi says they’ve instead shifted to educational advertisements to promote COVID-19 safety.

She says that she hopes those buying ferry tickets will start to take the rules more seriously on and off the boat.

Block Island sees around 1 million visitors throughout the year and as many as 15,000 during a busy summer weekend, according to Willi.

Eyewitness News has reached out to the Black Island Ferry for comment, but has not heard back.

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