All employees at retail businesses in Rhode Island will be required to wear cloth face masks at work starting later this week, Gov. Gina Raimondo said Tuesday.
In a news conference, Raimondo said she had signed an executive order requiring all employees at "customer-facing" businesses to wear masks starting Saturday.
The order requires business to provide masks to employees who do not have them.
Masks can be made of scarves, bandanas and other cloth material and must cover the mouth and nose.
"You have to do this," Raimondo said. "It will protect everyone in Rhode Island."
Penalties will not be immediately levied, but Raimondo said if people and business to not comply she would be forced to implement fines.
The governor said health authorities will conduct spot-checks at businesses to make sure the order is being followed.
The order came as health officials announced seven new deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, bringing the state's death toll to 80.
The state also announced 275 new cases of the disease, bringing Rhode Island's total number of cases to 3251.
The order came after Raimondo this week joined a group of East Coast governors working together on steps towards reopening their economies amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a joint task force between his state, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Delaware. Massachusetts was added to that list later that day.
Each state will name a public health official, economic development official, and chief of staff to serve on a working group, which will start work as soon as Tuesday to begin designing a reopening plan.
Raimondo said the formation of the group did not mean Rhode Island would be "obligated" to other states, describing the task force as a "working group."
"I will always do what I think is right for Rhode Island," she said.
She said it made sense for states to learn from and coordinate with each other given how closely their economies are tied.
Cuomo said an economic restart must be approached as a regional issue "any plan to reopen society must be driven by data and experts, not opinion and politics."
There is no deadline for the multi-state task force to deliver a reopening plan, but Cuomo said it must be "within weeks".
Eager to reopen the country by May 1, President Donald Trump asserted Monday that he is the ultimate decision-maker for determining how and when to relax the nation's social distancing guidelines.
Raimondo said her goal is to open the economy "as quickly as possible and as safely as possible."