End of the mandate of the RI mask, except in schools and on public transport
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Rhode Island’s last statewide indoor mask mandate will end Friday morning, allowing people to enter stores and offices without face coverings even if they are not vaccinated.
Schools, of course, are the biggest exception to unmasking. Gov. Dan McKee is keeping his order for school masks through March 4.
But there are other exceptions, and state officials are still trying to make up their minds on whether to wear face coverings.
Where do the masks fall on Friday?
Any store, office, entertainment venue, fitness center, salon or other indoor business that had required masks instead of checking people’s vaccination status at the door. Most retail businesses did not ask for proof of vaccination.
Of course, any private business that wants to require masks for customers or employees can continue to do so even if they don’t have to.
Here is what Governor McKee said: McKee is lifting the RI indoor mask mandate this weekend and the school mask mandate next month
Where do I still have to wear a mask?
All K-12 schools must require anyone age 2 or older to be masked indoors.
Colleges are not covered by the mask ordinance, but have required face coverings regardless.
The March 4 timeline assumes the General Assembly extends McKee’s emergency powers for another 45 days. Otherwise, the school mask mandate will expire on Tuesday.
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And on the buses?
Buses, trains, commercial airliners, taxis and public transportation are covered by a federal mandate that all passengers wear masks.
Transportation facilities such as Providence train station and Rhode Island TF Green International Airport are also covered by the federal transportation mask order.
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Yes. Like transportation, healthcare facilities are covered by federal regulations independent of any state rules.
Health care facilities where masks are still required are described as “hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities; emergency responders; home health workers; and employees of ambulatory care facilities”.
What about public buildings?
The Rhode Island State House and other state buildings will follow the state school calendar and require masking until March 4.
The governor is still discussing with other elected officials who work in state buildings, including state lawmakers, the secretary of state, treasurer general, and attorney general, when they want him. be lifted, said Matt Sheaff, spokesman for Governor Dan McKee.
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The House and Senate can establish their own rules for members.
House Spokesman Larry Berman and Senate Spokesman Greg Pare wrote in an email that the House and Senate are “discussing these issues.”
On the Senate floor on Thursday, Senate Speaker Dominick Ruggerio reminded his colleagues that the mask mandate is still in effect and to “please mask up.”
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COVID in numbers
Cases in RI: 351,334 (619 reported on Thursday)
Negative tests in RI: 6,939,132 (11,555 reported Thursday; 5.1% positive rate)
RI COVID-related deaths: 3,375 (6 reported Thursday)
Rhode Islanders hospitalized with COVID: 259 (35 in intensive care)
Fully vaccinated in RI: 808,978 (929,818 at least partially vaccinated)
Cases in Massachusetts: 1,642,896
Mass. COVID-related deaths: 22,675
Cases in the United States: 77,284,578
US COVID-related deaths: 912,549