Rhode Island’s state beaches are expected to open to full capacity this summer, Gov. Daniel McKee said Thursday.
Some beaches, including Scarborough and Roger Wheeler, will open on May 15, and all state beaches will open by Memorial Day, he said. Masks will still be required at concessions stands and other crowded areas, he said.
State beaches were allowed to open last summer but with reduced capacity in the parking lots to prevent overcrowding.
McKee also announced during his weekly COVID-19 briefing that Rhode Island is expanding its efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible by bringing shots to businesses, colleges, high schools, and other sites, and offering no-appointment vaccinations.
“We have moved into the next phase of vaccine distribution, which is all about meeting people where they are,” the Democratic governor said.
Any business or school that wants to host an on-site clinic should contact his office, he said.
About 650 employees of Electric Boat in North Kingstown, one of the state’s largest private employers, were vaccinated on-site Wednesday, McKee said.
Barrington High School also announced that next month it will hold on an on-site vaccination clinic for eligible students age 16 and older.
“There are some people that don’t have enough time to head to a clinic to get vaccinated, but they would if we had a clinic in their breakroom at work,” Tom McCarthy, executive director of the state’s COVID-19 response team said. “There are some high school seniors who have trouble getting to a vaccination clinic, but would be vaccinated if there’s a clinic in their gymnasium.”
People who don’t want to preregister or make an appointment for a shot now don’t have to, he said.
To that end, state-run mass vaccination clinics in Providence, Cranston and Middletown are offering shots to walk-ins starting immediately. Also, retail vaccination sites including CVS and Walgreens pharmacies, Walmart and Stop & Shop supermarkets will now offer vaccinations to people without an appointment, he said.
McCarthy cautioned that walk-in patients will only be vaccinated if there are shots available and encouraged people to continue making appointments just to be safe.
Dr. Philip Chan, an infectious disease specialist with the department, said vaccines work and urged residents not to hesitate and make sure they get their second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations.
“The vaccine is working ... for example, our hospitalization rate for people age 60 and over is down 80% from its peak,” he said.
To date, more than 375,500 people in Rhode Island have been fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health.