PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Masks will soon no longer be required when outdoors in Rhode Island, Gov. Daniel McKee announced Tuesday.
The new rule that takes effect Wednesday applies to both those who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus and those who remain unvaccinated, and is in line with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s decision to revise outdoor masking guidance for summer camps last week, the Democratic governor said in a statement.
Rhode Island's rule applies to outdoor live performances, youth sports and summer camps.
Those who have yet to receive a vaccination are still encouraged to wear face coverings in crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated. Close contact is considered less than 6 feet (2 meters) apart for more than 15 minutes over a 24-hour period.
The state Department of Health said businesses or other organizations are still allowed to ask customers or participants to wear masks.
Tuesday's announcement does not apply to indoor settings, including schools. Fully vaccinated people can choose not to wear masks indoors where permitted, but people who are yet to be fully vaccinated should continue wearing masks indoors.
HEALTH DEPARTMENT DATA
Three key metrics used to measure the spread of the coronavirus continue to show that the pandemic is coming under increased control in the state.
The state's weekly test positivity rate dropped to 0.8% for the week that ended Saturday, down from 1% the previous week, according to the state Department of Health.
The number of new hospital admissions fell to 40, down from 61 the previous week.
And the number of new cases per 100,000 population fell to 36, down from 58 the prior week.
The number people in the state's hospitals with COVID-19 as of Sunday, the latest day for which the information was available, was 49, the lowest single-day total in almost 11 months.
The number of fully vaccinated people in the state is now almost 555,000.
STATE HOUSE REOPENS
The Rhode Island State House reopened to the public on a limited basis on Tuesday.
Visitors are still required to wear face coverings in common areas, must sign a log book and will be subject to a temperature check.
Some areas will remain off limits for health and security reasons, McKee said in a previous announcement.
The State House will be open to the public between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
House sessions will also return to the State House on Tuesday, Speaker Joe Shekarchi previously said. Plexiglass barriers in the chamber will be removed and fully vaccinated representatives will not have to wear masks.
The Senate will continue to meet at Rhode Island College