State Watch

Rhode Island orders employers to require masks for all workers


Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) on Tuesday signed an executive order saying businesses in the state must require all workers to wear masks starting Saturday to stem the spread of coronavirus.

In the order, Raimondo said all employees of the state’s “customer/client-facing businesses and nonprofit organizations, office-based businesses and non-profit organizations, and any other such business category as determined by the Department of Business Regulation” must wear cloth facial coverings unless they have the capacity to “easily, continuously, and measurably” keep six feet of distance.

Raimondo’s order also requires businesses and employers to provide any such face coverings or materials needed to make them at their expense and make them available staffwide. Businesses that fail to comply will be subject to civil penalties, the order states.

Raimondo said retailers must also post signs indicating any customer age 2 or older must wear a mask in the facility, Bloomberg reported. “You have to do this,” she said, adding that government officials will perform “spot checks” at offices and stores.

If the state Department of Health finds a pattern of noncompliance, it may impose fines and other restrictions, Raimondo said, adding that she hasn’t “gone there yet” and expressing confidence businesses would follow the directive.

The state has seen a total of 80 deaths from the virus, including seven deaths Monday. State Health Department Director Nicole Alexander-Scott said that daily positive cases have decreased in recent days but noted it was likely the result of the Easter holiday and severe weather Monday reducing testing capacity. A total of 3,251 people in the state have tested positive since March 1.

Raimondo yesterday joined several other Northeastern governors, including New York’s Andrew Cuomo (D), Pennsylvania’s Tom Wolf (D), Delaware’s John Carney (D), New Jersey’s Phil Murphy (D) and Connecticut’s Ned Lamont (D) in announcing a regional coalition that will establish a process for the states in the region scaling back lockdown measures.

Tags Andrew Cuomo Coronavirus Gina Raimondo John Carney

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