Ministry of Health can impose fines on violators

PROVIDENCE – If the McKee administration follows the lead of its predecessor: Those who violate the new mask mandate taking effect Monday could face fines of up to $ 500 per violation.

The magnitude of the potential sanctions was among the unanswered questions when Gov. Dan McKee announced his decision to reinstate a masking requirement, amid rising COVID cases and hospitalizations.

He summarized the plan in an executive order posted online Thursday, along with a list of “frequently asked” questions and answers, which appear on

The mask’s mandate applies to customers and staff in interior spaces that can hold 250 people or more.

“This category includes retailers, restaurants, gathering places (eg performance halls, cinemas, arenas), entertainment establishments, bars, nightclubs, gyms, fitness centers / studios , funeral homes, places of worship, hairdressing salons, spas, hairdressing salons … and catered events with a capacity of 250 people or more. “

COVID in Rhode Island:McKee announces partial mask mandate, pushes for more COVID testing

Small establishments have the option of allowing customers to enter without a mask if they can prove that they are fully immunized.

All public or private employers with indoor and office operations should require a mask to be worn, but “can make an exception for anyone who provides proof of vaccination.”

The new mandate begins Monday and remains in effect for 30 days, at which time it will be reassessed.

What is Governor Dan McKee’s Order in Council for?

The executive order gives the director of the Rhode Island Department of Health the power to assess civil penalties for violating the executive order, but does not specify them.

Health Ministry spokesman Joseph Wendelken explained what will happen next – and what was in place earlier in the pandemic, under former Governor Gina Raimondo.

In the government’s speech: “A set of emergency regulations must be promulgated to formalize the executing authority of the Ministry of Health for this decree. (This was also the case with previous decrees.) ”

The previous decree provided for fines of up to $ 100 for a first violation, $ 250 for a second violation and $ 500 for a third violation.

Masking:What you need to know about RI’s new mask warrant as COVID cases rise

An alleged offender could appeal. But the health director could “initiate enforcement proceedings in Rhode Island Superior Court” if the offender does not request a hearing and pay within 10 days.

McKee’s executive order also calls for the creation of an “enforcement task force,” made up of inspectors from the Department of Health and other state departments to: “Conduct inspections of businesses, government and other establishments as well as enforce emergency regulations promulgated by [the Department of Health]. “

Who is exempt from the Rhode Island mask warrant?

According to “Frequently Asked Questions”, those exempt from mask requirements include: “Persons under two years of age; people whose health would be compromised by wearing a mask or face covering or people who are unable to comply, including young children who may not be able to effectively wear a mask or face shield. face cover. “

In addition, people would not be required to wear a mask if it would “interfere with communication by or with a hearing impaired person” or “if they were working alone in an office … in an environment where the masking would create a danger to the person. security … to receive communion, perform kiddush or conduct similar religious rituals. “

Others would be exempt if they “spoke to a show, webcast, or audience with no one within six feet of the person speaking … provided the athlete provides proof. vaccination … Consume food or drink.

And the list continues.