Anyone who visits Rhode Island will soon be able to get a coronavirus vaccine, and nightclubs will be allowed to open at full capacity by the end of May if patrons can prove they have received their shot, Gov. Daniel McKee announced Thursday.
Until now, only residents and people who work or go to school in the state have been eligible to receive a vaccine. That changes Monday.
The move comes just in time for the summer tourist season.
“We know that we're a tourist destination," the Democratic governor said at a news conference, adding: “We want to make sure that we keep everybody safe, including our visitors."
The state will put pop-up vaccination clinics in high-traffic areas including T.F. Green Airport. The change of policy was made possible because the state has an adequate supply of vaccines, he said.
Although exact details are still being worked out, starting May 28, nightclubs will be allowed to reopen at 100% capacity if all patrons can prove they have been vaccinated, or at 50% if they don't require customers to be vaccinated.
All nightclubs will be allowed to reopen at full capacity by July 1, McKee said.
Rhode Island will soon start requiring residents collecting unemployment benefits to actively search for work, Department of Labor and Training Director Matt Weldon said.
The requirement was suspended at the beginning of the pandemic when many sectors of the economy were shut down. Now that all adults are eligible to receive a vaccine and most business restrictions will soon be lifted, the agency will reinstate the requirement on May 23.
Unemployment recipients will be required to apply for full-time work at least three times per week. Attending a job interview or career fair will also count.
Those collecting unemployment insurance, however, will still be able to collect the extra $300 weekly benefit that has been ended in some states over concerns that it is discouraging people from seeking work.
McKee said ending that $300 federal boost is “shortsighted,” because the program is pouring about $20 million a week into the state's economy.
“We'd basically be hurting ourselves by not trying to protect those dollars,” he said.
HEALTH DEPARTMENT DATA
The Rhode Island Department of Health on Thursday reported about 150 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus and two more virus-related deaths.
There have now been more than 150,000 known cases and 2,698 fatalities in the state.
Almost 479,000 people in the state have now been fully vaccinated and almost 600,000 have been partially vaccinated, according to the department. About 40% of state residents age 16 to 18 have been partially vaccinated, Tom McCarthy, head of the state's COVID-19 response team, said Thursday.
More high school athletes in Rhode Island will be allowed to unmask this spring, according to the governing body of scholastic sports in the state.
Golf and tennis won't require masks at all, the Rhode Island Interscholastic League posted on its website Wednesday, The Providence Journal reported.
For baseball and softball, catchers, batters and home plate umpires will be required to wear face coverings. Everyone else may remove them during games.
In track and field, masks will be required only at the start of the 800-, 1,500- and 3,000-meter races. Athletes in all other events will not be required to wear masks.
Participants in wrestling, lacrosse, and volleyball will be required to wear face coverings at all times because those athletes cannot “easily, measurably and continuously maintain 3 feet of distance” during competition, the RIIL said.
Almost two dozen CVS pharmacy locations in Rhode Island on Thursday started offering Pfizer coronavirus vaccines for children ages 12 to 15, the company said.
The move came the day after a Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention advisory panel deemed that the shot is safe for children in that age group.
About 5,600 CVS locations are offering the Pfizer vaccine to children in the 12 to 15 range.
Adolescents age 12 to 15 can can also get a shot at state-run vaccination sites, McKee previously announced.
Parental or legal guardian consent is required.