Retail pharmacies in Rhode Island next week will start administering vaccines to people 75 and older who live at home. State officials also announced during a news conference on Thursday that COVID-19 restrictions on businesses will be scaled back. 

The vaccine will be available at 14 Walgreens and 7 CVS stores within the week, and health officials expect other pharmacies to join in.

Two CVS locations in Johnston and Providence will open registration for appointments on Saturday, and start administering the vaccine on Sunday. Another 5 CVS locations will open registration on Feb. 10 for slots the following day. In a statement, a spokesperson for CVS health said people could register online or call customer service to make an appointment. Walk-in vaccinations will not be available.

Walgreens will open registration for appointments Sunday at 7 a.m. and start vaccinating people on Feb. 9. 

State health officials also plan to send a batch of doses to cities and towns every week for four weeks starting Feb. 14. The 7,000 doses per week will be divided up based on population, and each community will be responsible for registering residents for shots. 

And Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, director of Rhode Island’s health department, said the vaccine will eventually be available at five to ten state-run sites, as more doses become available. 

“We’ve created a dispersed system like that intentionally,” said Alexander-Scott. “We want there to be many different access points because we want to be ready for when we’re getting enough vaccines to vaccinate everyone who wants to get vaccinated.”

Alexander-Scott said pharmacies and state and municipal sites will all use the same eligibility criteria. 

Alexander-Scott said she’s encouraged that the state’s test-positive rate has been declining for several weeks and that the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 dropped below 300 for the first time since November.

Citing these positive trends, Rhode Island officials said the state is scaling back restrictions on businesses. Beginning Friday, the number of people allowed at catered events will double. The space required between people at gyms will shrink by more than half, from 14 feet to 6 feet. And office spaces can begin to reopen at 33% capacity. 

Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce, Stefan Pryor, warned that the loosening could be temporary if new variants of the virus drive another wave of infection in the state.

“We know that there could be a need for a tightening of restrictions if these new strains arise, we certainly hope that does not happen,” said Pryor.