Rhode Island is stepping up enforcement of rules for out-of-state travelers and ordering bars to close earlier due to an increase in new cases of the coronavirus, according to Gov. Gina Raimondo.
Eleven percent of new cases stem from out-of-state travel, she said at a Wednesday news conference.
Beginning Sunday, anyone coming from one of the 33 states on Rhode Island's quarantine list will be required to sign a compliance certificate that they have had a negative COVID-19 test or that they plan to quarantine for 14 days. Travelers checking into a hotel will be required to sign the certificate or they won't be allowed to stay, Raimondo said.
The announcement comes as neighboring states added Rhode Island to their quarantine lists.
Effective Friday, Rhode Island will be removed from Massachusetts' list of eight low-risk states exempt from a travel order that asks visitors to quarantine for two weeks unless they test negative for COVID-19, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said Tuesday. Rhode Island was also added to the list of locations that require a 14-day quarantine for people traveling to Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.
Those orders don't apply to Rhode Islanders commuting for work, Raimondo noted Wednesday.
"On the one hand I think it's a good thing," she said of the travel restrictions by the other states. "It should be a wake a call."
More on the Coronavirus in Rhode Island
Raimondo said that, the less Rhode Islanders travel, the better, so that cases will go down. The only downside, she said, is the economic impact to Rhode Island.
"This is a turning point right now. We need to clamp down right now and get more serious," she said.
On Wednesday, there was one new fatality and 84 additional cases of the novel coronavirus, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health. The statewide death toll now stands at 1,012 while the total number of positive cases is 19,481.
Raimondo also announced Wednesday that Rhode Island bars will be required to close at 11 p.m. beginning Friday.
"We continue to see that bars are a problem," Raimondo said.
She added that inspectors are still finding that 20% of bars are not "following the rules" and that crowding is still an issue.
If the numbers don't come down, Raimondo said, she will announce more statewide restrictions next week.
"I don't like seeing us in red on that map," she said.
With concerns about the virus spreading, the governor reiterated that no more than 15 people are allowed at social gatherings.
Anyone Rhode Islander who wants to report a large gathering can do so by calling state police at 401-764-5554.