Gov. Gina Raimondo's executive order requiring face coverings for most people when they are in public places to help slow the spread of the coronavirus in Rhode Island is now in effect.
The order taking effect Friday requires coverings indoors and outdoors when people are unable to maintain social distancing, with some exceptions.
Raimondo announced she was signing the order during her daily news conference Friday afternoon, a day before the state gears up to begin reopening.
The state's stay-at-home order will be lifted on Saturday, which allows the reopening of some non-critical retail businesses.
As businesses begin to open up, Raimondo said she will also sign another executive order allowing the Rhode Island Department of Health to impose fines and shut down businesses that are not in compliance with the state's Phase I rules.
"We're not out to get anybody," Raimondo said. "The goal here is to encourage compliance."
Looking ahead to Mother's Day, the governor reiterated that social gatherings are limited to 5 people.
"It's not a time to have big family gatherings," Raimondo said.
Raimondo said if people follow the rules during Phase 1, then things will get back to normal faster.
"If you try to sneak around the rules, bad things will happen," she said.
Rhode Island has met several benchmarks that Raimondo said Thursday are allowing her to lift the state’s stay-at-home order and initiate a phased-in restart of the economy.
Those benchmarks include a two-week downward or stable trend in the number of new coronavirus cases or hospitalizations; sufficient and quick testing of people with symptoms of the disease; an effective and quick contact tracing system; and a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment, the Democrat said at her daily news conference.
“My goal is to get as many people back to work as quickly as possible without ever jeopardizing our public health and without ever having to go backwards to where we’ve just come from, which is shutting down our economy,” she said.
Life in the first phase of the restart won’t look much different than it does now, she said, noting that people will still be required to wear face coverings in public, social distancing must be maintained and social gatherings will be limited to five at most until at least May 22.
“We want to keep our networks small,” she said.
More on the Coronavirus in Rhode Island
Under Raimondo's plan, nonessential businesses will be allowed to reopen, hospitals can start scheduling elective and non-critical procedures, and some state parks will reopen.
Houses of worship will also be allowed to reopen, but gatherings will be limited to five people.
Up to 10 people will be allowed to attend funerals, while maintaining appropriate social distancing.
People traveling to Rhode Island and planning to stay in the state will still be required to self-quarantine for 14 days until May 22, and the 14-day self-quarantine order for people coming from out of the country has been extended until June 5.
The governor has said that if at any point the state sees a spike in cases, she may have to reintroduce strict measures.
As of Friday, the Rhode Island Health Department reported 11 new COVID-19 related deaths for a total of 399 statewide. There were 249 new cases, bringing the state's total to 10,779.