Rhode Island businesses have reason to celebrate this week. Governor Dan McKee is lifting the draconian lockdown measures implemented by his predecessor Gina Raimondo before she fled for a cabinet position in the Biden Administration. Another reason for Rhode Islanders to celebrate.

The biggest little state in the union is about to become a free state. McKee says the state will fully reopen on Friday, one week earlier than previously planned. McKee tweeted last Friday that businesses will be allowed to open to 100 percent capacity without limits on social gatherings.

And that is not all of the good news. McKee's tweet also addressed the issue of masks, just days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offered new guidance that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or out.

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The State House News Service reported McKee will permit fully vaccinated Rhode Islanders to shed their masks beginning Tuesday, “Starting May 18th, Rhode Island will adopt new @CDCgov mask-wearing guidance,” McKee tweeted. “Fully-vaccinated Rhode Islanders will no longer need to wear masks or social distance in most indoor spaces.”

The order comes a week before the long Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial launch of the summer season, and is great news for businesses who have been struggling with restrictions for more than a year because of the pandemic.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is looking at an August 1 reopening but indicated last week that he would have more to say about that this week.

Hey Charlie, your restrictions are killing business. Look at what Dan McKee is doing next door in Rhode Island. Come on, man, end these ridiculous restrictions now!

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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