COVID-19’s impact on business and everyday life is significant. Partridge Snow & Hahn has assembled a team of attorneys with diverse practice areas who regularly advise companies on how to handle these impacts from both a legal and business perspective. 

Current Updates:
  • April 10, 2023 – Governor McKee signed Executive Order 23-04 extending the RI State of Emergency declared due to COVID-19 through May 5, 2023.
  • March 13, 2023 – Governor McKee signed Executive Order 23-03 extending the RI State of Emergency declared due to COVID-19 through April 10, 2023.
  • February 10, 2023 – Governor McKee signed Executive Order 23-02 extending the RI State of Emergency declared due to COVID-19 through March 11, 2023. On the national level, the President has announced his intention to end both the national emergency and the public health emergency declarations related to COVID-19 on May 11, 2023.
  • January 9, 2023 – Governor McKee signed Executive Order 23-01 extending the RI State of Emergency declared due to COVID-19 through February 9, 2023.
  • December 12, 2022 – Governor McKee signed Executive Order 22-37 extending the RI State of Emergency declared due to COVID-19 through January 10, 2023.
  • November 11, 2022 – Governor McKee signed Executive Order 22-36 extending the RI State of Emergency declared due to COVID-19 through December 11, 2022.
  • October 12, 2022 – Governor McKee has signed Executive Order 22-34 extending the RI State of Emergency declared due to COVID-19 through November 11, 2022.
  • September 16, 2022 – Governor McKee has signed Executive Order 22-33 extending the RI State of Emergency declared due to COVID-19 through October 12, 2022.
  • September 1, 2022 – Governor McKee has signed Executive Order 22-32 extending the RI State of Emergency declared due to COVID-19 through September 30, 2022.
  • August 11, 2022 – The CDC has updated its guidance concerning quarantine and isolation. Individuals (regardless of vaccination) are not recommended to quarantine after exposure. Such individuals are recommended to wear a mask for ten days and to take a test on day six. The recommendation for isolation for a COVID infection is five days for cases with no symptoms. For symptomatic cases, isolation may end after day five if the individual is fever free for 24 hours and symptoms are improving. A mask should be worn after an infection for ten days. The ten-day period may be shortened if the individual tests negative for COVID on two tests taken 48 hours apart).
  • August 4, 2022 – Governor McKee has signed Executive Order No. 22-31 extending the RI State of Emergency declared due to COVID-19 through September 2, 2022.
  • July 7, 2022 – Governor McKee has signed Executive Order No. 22-29 extending the RI State of Emergency declared due to COVID-19 through August 5, 2022.
  • June 12, 2022 – The EEOC updated its frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19. Under the new guidance, COVID-19 screening of the entire workforce, or segment thereof, is limited to situations where it is job-related and consistent with business necessity, determined by looking to relevant public health sources.
  • June 12, 2022 – The CDC rescinded its order requiring all airline passengers show a negative COVID-19 test to enter the United States. Non-U.S. citizen nonimmigrants must still show proof of vaccination prior to entry into the United States.
  • June 7, 2022 – Governor McKee signed Executive Order No. 22-27 extending the Rhode Island State of Emergency declared due to COVID-19 through July 7, 2022.
  • May 10, 2022 – Governor McKee has signed Executive Order No. 22-26 extending the Rhode Island State of Emergency declared due to COVID-19 through June 8, 2022.
  • April 25, 2022 – The I-9 COVID-19 flexibilities, including the provision for remote inspection of work eligibility documentation for those still working remotely due to COVID, have been extended until October 31, 2022.
  • April 18, 2022 – A Florida federal court vacated the CDC transportation mask order. Given the ruling, the TSA will no longer be enforcing the mask mandate on planes, buses, ferries, subways and other public transportation.
  • April 12, 2022 – Governor McKee has signed Executive Order No. 22-24 extending the Rhode Island COVID State of Emergency order through May 11, 2022.
  • April 8, 2022 – The Fifth Circuit lifted the stay on Executive Order No. 14043, which directs federal agencies to require its employees to get vaccinated. Note: This order applies to government employees (not federal contractors). Click here to view.
  • March 18, 2022 – Governor McKee has signed Executive Order 22-23 extending the Rhode Island State of Emergency through April 13, 2022. Governor McKee has not extended or created a new Quarantine/Isolation Order.
  • March 14, 2022 – The Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Program ends tomorrow. Employers are not required to provide paid time off beyond the normal 5 days of sick time (if applicable) after March 15, 2022 to their Massachusetts employees and will not be eligible for reimbursement if additional paid time off is voluntarily provided. Applications for reimbursements for time previously paid must be submitted by April 29, 2022. For more information click here.
  • March 14, 2022 – The Rhode Island quarantine and isolation order expired March 12, 2022 and has not been extended. Currently there is no order in Rhode Island requiring quarantine or isolation in the event of a positive COVID case or COVID exposure.
  • March 11, 2022 – The Rhode Island Department of Health withdrew its vaccine mandate regulation relating to health care workers.
  • March 5, 2022 – Following its lifting of the requirement of proof of vaccination in Boston for most indoor businesses, Boston has also lifted its indoor mask mandate.
  • March 3, 2022 – The Rhode Island state of emergency order has been extended until April 1, 2022.
  • March 3, 2022 – State officials announced the Massachusetts COVID sick leave law will expire March 15, 2022, two weeks prior to the anticipated expiration date.
  • February 11, 2022 –  The Rhode Island executive order concerning quarantining and isolation in the event of a positive test or exposure (Executive Order 22-06) has been extended until March 12, 2022 (Executive Order 22-15).
  • February 11, 2022 – As expected, the mask order in Rhode Island (Executive Order 21-116) was not renewed. Thus, public spaces and private employers no longer must require mask wearing (regardless of vaccination status or size).
  • February 3, 2022 – Pursuant to Executive Order 22-12, the state of emergency order in Rhode Island has been extended until March 4, 2022 and the Quarantine and Isolation Order has been extended until February 14, 2022.

In addition, the RIDOH has once again revised its Isolation and Quarantine requirements, which are incorporated into the Executive Order. The only change is to reduce the time immunocompromised COVID-positive individuals must isolate. Under the new Guidance, these individuals must isolate 10 days (down from 20 days) since the positive test (if asymptomatic) or symptoms first appeared (if symptoms have improved, they have not had a fever in 24 hours and have consulted with their health care provider).

The Guidance references the CDC’s definition of immunocompromised, which it says includes the following:

    • Currently getting chemotherapy for cancer
    • Being within one year out from receiving a hematopoietic stem cell or solid organ transplant
    • Untreated HIV infection with CD4 T lymphocyte count lower than 200
    • Primary immunodeficiency
    • Taking immunosuppressive medications (e.g., drugs to suppress rejection of transplanted organs or to treat rheumatologic conditions such as mycophenolate and rituximab)
    • Taking more than 20 mg a day of prednisone, for more than 14 days
    • Other condition(s) as determined by the treating healthcare provider
  • January 26, 2022 – The Rhode Island Department of Health updated their guidance regarding isolation last week and again on January 26, 2022 (click here to view guidance). The portion of the guidance regarding isolation for COVID-19 cases and quarantine for close contact is incorporated into Executive Order 22-06 (currently set to expire February 5, 2022).

The revisions appear to make two significant changes for both symptomatic and asymptomatic persons recovering from COVID. While non-immunocompromised individuals can still stop full isolation after five days (subject to the same standard regarding symptom improvement if applicable), under the new guidance such individuals are prohibited on days 5-10 of the recovery from traveling on public transportation or airplanes, visiting immunocompromised people and visiting places where the employee is unable to wear a mask, such as a restaurant. The prior January 7, 2022 guidance did not contain that outright prohibition and only asked individuals to “avoid” those situations. While businesses are not required to ensure employees comply with the order, employers now cannot require employees to travel for work on day 5-10 of the recovery period and should allow employees to eat in a socially distanced setting. In addition, employers should be prepared for further staffing disruptions given that employees would no longer be allowed to go to work via bus, train or ride share. The guidance does not provide an exception to the restriction even if a negative test is procured in the 5-10 day period.

Finally, the new guidance requires individuals wear a “high-quality mask” during the 5-10 day recovery period, which appears from the link in the guidance to mean a surgical or KN95 level (or above) mask.

In the case of close contact with someone with COVID-19, any adult who has not completed the recommended vaccine doses (including a booster after 6 months for primary Moderna and Pfizer vaccinations and 2 months for Johnson and Johnson) and also has not tested positive for COVID in the last 90 days through a lab based PCR or antigen test (not a home based test) must quarantine for 5 days (with additional precautions on days 5-10). Fully vaccinated and boosted individuals, as well as those who have recently recovered from a COVID-19 infection, must follow the precautions for 10 days after close contact but can work and do not have to quarantine. The precautions include a prohibition on travel by plane or public transportation and visiting immunocompromised individuals. In addition, the precautions require the individual wear a high quality mask.

  • January 24, 2022 – The federal contractor vaccine mandate remains on hold per the prior nationwide preliminary injunction. However, on January 24, 2022, the court clarified that covered contractors still had to follow the rest of the order (which requires specific mask rules, notices, and future safety guidance issued by the Safter Federal Worker Taskforce, whatever that may be). The Court refused to rule on the motion as to whether federal contractors and the government could voluntarily continue to include such provisions in their contracts and enforce vaccine requirements outside of the mandate. The Safter Federal Worker Taskforce thereafter issued guidance stating such provisions could be voluntarily included in contracts.
  • January 18, 2022 – The guidance regarding section 6001 of the FFCRA has been updated, which requires health care plans and self-insured employers to pay for COVID tests taken for diagnostic or treatment purposes (but not employer-mandated testing unrelated to diagnosis or treatment).

Under the new guidance, plans and self-insured employers must cover up to 8 over-the-counter tests per person per 30 day period obtained for diagnosis/treatment after January 15, 2022. Click here to view updated guidance.

In addition, the Biden administration has also announced that starting on January 19, 2022, each household can directly order (free of cost) four self-tests from the government at:  Click here to view FAQ sheet.

  • January 14, 2022 – Good news for employers everywhere – the Supreme Court (view Decision here) has re-instituted the stay on the OSHA Rule while the litigation is pending in the lower courts. This means that OSHA will not enforce the Rule pending resolution of the merits by the Sixth Circuit. While technically the matter is not yet resolved, and the Sixth Circuit could decide to uphold the Rule down the line, it is highly likely the Sixth Circuit will strike down the Rule given the Supreme Court’s clear reasoning.

The Supreme Court greenlighted the health care worker mandate, issuing a stay of the temporary injunction which previously stopped the rule. That mandate requires health care workers working at institutions that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding get vaccinated absent a religious or disability accommodation.

  • January 7, 2022 – The Rhode Island Department of Health has updated its Quarantine and Isolation Guidance (view here). Like the previous guidance, the guidance only is incorporated into the Rhode Island Order (and thus is a legal mandate) with respect to isolation after having a COVID case for people who have been diagnosed with COVID or have tested positive (not those individuals who think they have COVID or individuals in close contact). Under the new guidance, individuals are only eligible to leave quarantine after 5 days if (in addition to the prior requirements) the individual did not have a severe or “moderate” case of COVID. There is no definition of what is a “moderate” case of COVID.
  • January 7, 2022 – Rhode Island Executive Order 22-02 issued extending the Rhode Island emergency order until February 4, 2022.
  • January 4, 2022 – Effective January 15, 2022 in the City of Boston, indoor restaurants, bars, entertainment establishments and gyms must require proof of partial vaccination to enter the premises of all customers and employees over 12 (view Boston Public Health Commission Order). Full vaccination is required February 15, 2022 and vaccination of children over the age of 5 is required thereafter.
  • January 4, 2022 – The Rhode Island Department of Health has updated the guidance (view here) which is incorporated in the Rhode Island quarantine order. As expected, individuals who have tested positive for COVID only must quarantine for five days following a positive test if the individual does not have a fever, followed by a five day mask recommendation (not requirement). The guidance was also updated to allow unvaccinated close contacts to only quarantine for five days and now requires the five day quarantine for close contacts who are vaccinated but have not received a booster if the original vaccines were received over 6 months ago for Moderna and Pfizer and 2 months ago for Johnson & Johnson. However, the guidance has no effect (yet) as to the close contact piece because the executive order does not incorporate that piece of the guidance into the order and the order itself has yet to be updated. An update may be expected soon.
  • January 4, 2022 – The guidance interpreting the large-employer OSHA rule requiring testing for unvaccinated employees now allows for self-read, over the counter covid tests taken by the employee without observation if and only if the tests produce a date and time stamped result (view Question 6 here). These tests are not widely available at this time and would likely be more expensive than the currently available non-digital tests.
  • December 27, 2021 – The CDC has reduced their recommended isolation timeframe for those who recover from COVID. While this may influence decisions in states without a quarantine order – such as Massachusetts – this has no effect in states with a quarantine order that sets out its own standards. For example, in Rhode Island, the quarantine order cites the Rhode Island Department of Health guidelines as to positive cases, which have not been updated to reflect the change and still requires a 10 day quarantine period.
  • December 22, 2021 – Governor McKee has extended the Rhode Island quarantine and isolation order (Executive Order 21-105) without revision until January 20, 2022.
  • December 17, 2021 – On the evening of December 17, 2021, the Sixth Circuit dissolved the Fifth Circuit’s stay of OSHA’s Vaccination or Test Rule. The good news is that in order to provide employers with sufficient time to come into compliance, OSHA will not issue citations for any requirements (such as the notice/policy requirements) of the Rule before January 10, 2022 and will not issue citations for noncompliance with the standard’s testing requirements before February 9, 2022, so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard.

Several emergency appeals have been filed with the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • December 17, 2021 – Rhode Island passed a new mask order (Executive Order 21-116), which is effective December 20, 2021 and has a current expiration date of January 18, 2022.

All employers, including but not limited to offices and manufacturers, must require masking indoors of all individuals unless proof of vaccination is provided by an individual. Proof of vaccination includes showing a vaccination card, printed copy or photo of vaccination card, digital or printed copy of vaccination record through the department of health and soon-to be released app or SMART Health Cards issued outside of Rhode Island.

Retail and services operations, recreational establishments, bars, restaurants, historical establishments, cultural establishments, venues of assembly and religious organizations (“public places”) must require masking indoors regardless of vaccination if the capacity of the operation is 250 people or more. Public places with a capacity of less than 250 people may provide exceptions to the masking mandate for people who provide proof of vaccination. A seated establishment/venue calculates the 250 capacity threshold by counting seats. An establishment that is not seated may estimate capacity by assuming one person per 60 square feet (so an establishment with 15,000 square feet is presumed to have a 250 person capacity).

Catered events have similar rules, with the distinction that the vaccination exception to the mask requirement applies if there is less than 250 at the event (verses an estimated capacity).

There are various situation exceptions to the mask requirement, such as eating and drinking and working alone in an office or job site where the worker is not expected to be approached by others.

The Rhode Island Department of Health (“RIDOH”) is authorized to make rules, regulations and enforce the order. The RIDOH published an FAQ on December 17, 2021 which states that establishments will need to post signage at entrances regarding their policy. View FAQ sheet. Model posters can be found at

  • December 10, 2021 – Governor McKee has signed Rhode Island Executive Order 21-115, which extends Executive Order 21-109 (declaring a state of emergency in Rhode Island) through January 8, 2022.
  • December 7, 2021 – A Georgia Federal Court has enjoined the federal government from enforcing the federal contractor vaccine mandate on a nationwide basis pending a further order from the court.  View Georgia Order.
  • December 6, 2021 – Effective December 6, 2021, under the amended CDC travel order, all travelers to the United States – including U.S. Citizens – must obtain negative COVID test taken on the prior calendar day or same day the flight departs to the United States. The prior order accepted tests taken 72 hours prior to departure. The order still allows for an exception for travelers who have recovered from COVID in the last 90 days and recognizes antigen tests, as well as NAAT tests (such as PCR tests). View Amended Global Testing Order.
  • November 24, 2021 – Governor McKee has signed Executive Order #21-112, which extends Executive Orders #20-02 (State of Emergency Order) and #21-105 (prior quarantine order, available here) through December 23, 2021.
  • November 22, 2021 – The appeal of the stay of the OSHA Rule mandating COVID testing for unvaccinated workers will be heard by Sixth Circuit. As anticipated, OSHA has indicated that it does not intend to prosecute the OSHA Rule during the stay. Interesting, states are again (apparently in reaction to the OSHA Rule) passing anti-vaccine passport laws. Specifically:
    • Florida. Under new Florida laws, private employers who mandate vaccines must exempt employees from the mandate who agree to test weekly, agree to wear PPE or have previously recovered from COVID within a certain timeframe. The testing exemption in the law requires employers to pay for the cost of testing. It is a developing issue, as the law can be read not to apply to a test-or-vaccine policies (potentially thus not requiring payment for testing as long as there was a testing option to begin with verses an exemption the employee had to invoke). View Florida law.
    • Tennessee. As of November 12, 2021, Tennessee now prohibits employers from requiring proof of vaccination or taking action against anyone to compel proof of vaccination if the person objects to the vaccination for any reason. View Tennessee law.
    • Arkansas. A bill has passed requiring employers to provide a testing exemption to vaccine mandates (the insurer or employee has to pay for the testing, not the employer), as well recognize recovery from prior infection as an exemption. The governor has indicated he would not sign or veto the legislations, which will mean the bill would become law January 13, 2022. View Arkansas law.
    • Iowa. In Iowa, employers must waive a vaccine mandate if the employee submits a statement that the vaccine would be injurious to the employee’s health and wellbeing or to the health and wellbeing of a family member: View Iowa law.
    • Alabama & Texas. In both Alabama and Texas, the employer cannot mandate vaccination of an employee who has recovered from COVID previously within a particular period of time. In addition, in Texas an employer cannot compel an employee to receive the vaccine who objects to the vaccine for “reason of personal conscience” (which could be read as a stand alone exemption or an exemption tied to religious belief). View Texas Order.

Additional states are expected to pass similar vaccine mandate restrictions that will apply to private employers.

  • November 12, 2021 – Governor McKee signed Executive Order 21-109, which extends the state of emergency through December 11, 2021.   View Executive Order 21-109.
  • November 12, 2021 – The fifth circuit affirmed its stay of the OSHA rule mandating COVID testing of unvaccinated employees working for large employers.
  • November 10, 2021 – Over the weekend, the fifth circuit court of appeals issued a nationwide stay of the OSHA large employer testing mandate. In addition, the deadline for compliance with the federal contractor vaccine mandate (applying to employees of federal contractors and subcontractors working on certain new and renewal contracts entered into after October 15, 2021) has been delayed until January 4, 2022.
  • November 4, 2021 – OSHA has released its over 400-page rule for private employers with more than 100 employees to test their unvaccinated workers (click here for summary). The compliance date for the major part of the rule is January 4, 2022, with some other components effective December 5, 2021. The rule does not require employers pay for the tests. However, it also does not pre-empt other laws that may require payment.
  • October 15, 2021 – The Rhode Island state of emergency order has been extended through November 13, 2021View Executive Order 21-103.  The order suspending charges to employer unemployment accounts for benefits collected for COVID-19 reasons has expired and will not be renewed.
  • October 6, 2021 – The Rhode Island Department of Health (“the RIDOH”) has allowed health care facilities to submit attestations of noncompliance which essentially will allow them to have until October 31st to meet the vaccine requirement if required for patient care. So far one individual health care worker has received a compliance order from the RIDOH in response to his statements to the press that he planned to continue to provide health care despite in violation of the regulations. View recent actions/orders here.
  • October 5, 2021 – Massachusetts released the new poster relating to the extended Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave law. View the poster here.
  • September 30, 2021 – A Rhode Island Federal Court denied healthcare workers’ request for a TRO against the enforcement of Rhode Island’s vaccine mandate. View here.
  • September 30, 2021 – Rhode island Executive Order 21-99 was issued extending the State of Emergency and allows employees to collect unemployment benefits for COVID-19 reasons without it counting against employer accounts through October 30, 2021.
  • September 30, 2021 – Rhode Island Executive Order 21-100 was issued extending the quarantine order until October 30, 2021.
  • September 29, 2021 – The Rhode Island Department of Revenue’s Emergency Regulations published in May 2020 regarding withholding of state income taxes for employees working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic expired and have not been renewed. The Regulations had provided that the income of employees who are nonresidents temporarily working outside of Rhode Island solely due to the pandemic would continue to be treated as Rhode Island-source income for Rhode Island withholding tax purposes.
  • September 29, 2021 – Governor Baker extended the Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Provisions (MA EPSL) until April 1, 2022 or until the fund is exhausted. The extension does not provide for additional time off, it just allows employees who have not used the 40 hours to continue to use the time and also expands the use of the leave to include time off to help a family member get vaccinated and recover from any illness or disability related to the immunization.
  • September 24, 2021 – Safer Federal Workforce Taskforce issued COVID-19 Workforce Safety: Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors. The guidance provides additional details as to how the mandate will work, as follows:
    • New covered contracts of the type identified in our September 10th Client Alert entered into after November 14th and renewals entered into by October 15th (“Covered Contracts”) must contain the vaccine mandate that all employees performing work in connection with a Covered Contract (“Covered Employee”) and all employees working at a worksite where a Covered Employee works (“Covered Worksite”) are fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021. “Fully vaccinated” includes all recommended doses of the usual FDA approved vaccines, as well as the WHO approved vaccines (like AstraZeneca). An employee is considered to work at a Covered Worksite if they work in the same facility/property as a Covered Employee unless the employer can demonstrate there is no interaction between the Covered Employee and other employee(s), including potential contact in areas common areas like stairwells. The definition of what employees work in connection with a Covered Contract is very broad and includes indirect work (such as Human Resources, legal review, billing, etc.). An employee who works fully in a remote capacity in connection with a Covered Contract is still required to be vaccinated. However, their remote location is not considered a “worksite” if no other employees work there, meaning the members of the Covered Employee’s household do not have to be vaccinated.
    • There are flow down requirements making primary contractors on Covered Contracts responsible for including the mandate in their subcontracts, which flows all the way down the contracting chain (so subcontractors would be required to include the clause in their contracts with subcontractors). This flow down requirement does not apply to subcontractors only providing products.
    • Contractors/subcontractors are required to review the vaccine card, pharmacy/health record or the local health agency record (or a photo/scan) to verify vaccination. There are exceptions for religious and medical accommodations. For mission critical positions, agencies may allow a contractor 60 days after starting work to comply with the mandate. There is no exception for prior infection. The guidance states the order supersedes the state anti-vaccine passport orders/regulations to the contrary.

All individuals (even visitors) at a Covered Worksite must be required to wear masks if unvaccinated or if vaccinated and in a high area of transmission with a narrow exception when working in an office and for medical/religious accommodations. There is a general requirement that the worksites follow CDC requirements on masking and distancing and track the transmission rate on a weekly basis. Contractors/subcontractors must designate a person who is responsible for compliance.

  • September 17, 2021 – Governor McKee signed Executive Order 21-97 extending : (1) The State of Emergency over the Delta variant (Order 21-86); and (2) The Executive Order requiring Masks in Schools (Order 21-87) through October 16, 2021.
  • September 9, 2021 –  The President announced a COVID-19 Action Plan (the “Plan”) and released two orders that contain surprisingly broad measures. The Plan will impact many businesses and organizations across the nation. Read more.
  • September 2, 2021 – Governor McKee signed a new and revised Isolation and Quarantine Order. The order now requires:

(1) Fully vaccinated people who were in close contact with someone with COVID (within 6 feet for 15 minutes within a 24 hour period or if the RIDOH contacts the person to inform them they were in close contact) must wear a mask in public indoor settings until either (a) they receive a negative test taken 3-5 days after the exposure; or (b) for 14 days if no test is done.

(2) Those who are not fully vaccinated and are in close contact with someone with COVID (as defined in (1)) must: (a) quarantine for 10 days or 7 days if a negative test is obtained 5-7 days after the last exposure unless an exemption applies and (b) must get tested immediately after being notified of being a close contact and, if negative, get tested again 5-7 days after last exposure or immediately if symptoms develop during quarantine. Exemptions include certain exposures in school settings, certain health care works where there is a staffing shortage and individuals who have recently recovered from COVID.

Executive Order 21-94 expires October 1, 2021 and still provides for quarantine for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals with COVID and provides for a 14 day quarantine period for unvaccinated persons with close contact exposure living in a congregate setting.

  • September 1, 2021 – Governor McKee signed Executive Order 21-92 providing that changes to employers’ accounts for individuals who are paid unemployment benefits for reasons related to COVID-19 continue to be suspended. This Order takes effect immediately and expires on October 1, 2021.
  • September 1, 2021 – The town of New Shoreham (Block Island) passed an Emergency Ordinance, effective immediately, requiring masks in indoor public places where 6 feet distance cannot be easily and continuously maintained.
  • August 31, 2021 – The IRS issued Revenue Procedure 2021-39, which allows issuers of tax-exempt private activity bonds to continue to hold TEFRA hearings via teleconference through March 31, 2022. Read more.
  • August 20, 2021 – Cities and towns in Massachusetts have issued mask mandates or announced the mandates were or will be passed. The common theme among all of the mandates is directed at public spaces (spaces open to the general public) not private, employee-only businesses. Most are individual mask mandates, but some are directed at the business themselves and some require business postings. None have exceptions for vaccinations. Click here to view specific city and town mandates.
  • August 19, 2021 – Governor McKee signed a new state of emergency order due to the Delta variant, set to expire September 18, 2021, as well as an order mandating K-12 schools to require individuals to wear masks as dictated by protocol developed by the Rhode Island Department of Health (also set to expire the 18th).
  • August 18, 2021 – Rhode Island Department of Health has issued the final rule relating to mandatory vaccines for health care providers. The group of people impacted by the vaccine mandate is very broad. Essentially, there are two groups affected by the rule.

One group are “health care facilities”, which takes the same definition as 23-17-2(8): This includes facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, home care providers, surgical centers and more but excludes, amongst other things, practitioner’s offices, such as dentist offices or a group of physicians. For true “health care facilities”, there is the requirement that the facility (a) deny entrance of any employee that is a “health care provider” (defined below) by October 1, 2021 if the worker is not vaccinated; (b) implement procedures in the next 7 days to ensure workers compliance with the rules, including ensuring those who are not vaccinated get tested twice a week until October 1st (or longer if a medical exemption applies); and (c) have an adequate supply of procedure or higher grade masks. Offices that do not fit within the definition of a health care facility essentially do not have to do anything but may be impacted indirectly by the individual mandate.

The individual mandate extends to both unvaccinated:

(a) “health care workers”, meaning anyone who is employed by or works at a health care facility and has direct contact with patients and health care providers, regardless of whether they are directly involved in patient care (so it also includes clerical/housekeeping/security/maintenance personnel); and

(b) “health care providers” meaning anyone – including those who do not work at a health care facility – directly involved in patient care or potentially exposed to infectious agents that can be transmitted from person to person and who either is licensed to or otherwise lawfully provides health care services (there is no definition of health care services). It is important to note: (a) licensing does not matter and (b) in the non-health care facility context, if someone is licensed to provide health care services but does not actually provide health care services, the mandate does not apply.

Both groups of individual unvaccinated workers are required to (a) be vaccinated by October 1, 2021 (absent a medical exception), meaning all doses have been received of one of the authorized vaccines by the FDA, WHO or DOH (so if someone got the J&J by October 1st, they are compliant, there is no requirement any immunity is obtained before the 1st); and (b) if the vaccine was obtained out of state, email a form showing vaccination status. Oddly, there is no deadline for (b)(the DOH already has everyone’s vaccine records who got the vaccine in the state, which is why the mandate only applies to out-of-state vaccines). Unvaccinated health care workers also have the mandate to do the twice a week testing and unvaccinated health care providers have the requirement to wear a procedure or higher grade mask.

Someone is medically exempt from the vaccine if a physician, physician assistant or advanced practice registered nurse signs a “medical exemption” stating the provider is exempt from the COVID-19 vaccine because of a medical reason in accordance with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) guidelines. Also oddly, once the person gets the exemption that does not work for the health care facility, it appears they just keep it, as there is no requirement it be emailed or provided to the DOH. There is no religious exemption or exemption for individuals who have recently recovered from COVID.

Penalties are discretionary and are not automatic. So the person’s license is not automatically suspended and a fine does not automatically issue unless the DOH decides to take action. However, the DOH has the authority to take action against the person’s license (if applicable) and to impose penalties under 23-1-25. This statute allows the DOH to impose up to a $100 fine and/or imprisonment of not more than 30 days for violating the Rule without further notice. The DOH could also issue a compliance order to a specific individual, which if then is still not complied with, could result for each day of the violation a $300 fine and/or 90 days imprisonment.

  • August 16, 2021 – Governor McKee signed Executive Order 21-85, which extends Executive Order 20-19 (the order suspending charges to employers’ unemployment accounts for benefits collected relating to COVID-19 reasons) to September 1, 2021.
  • August 12, 2021 – Rhode Island has announced its plan to mandate vaccines for all health care providers licensed in the state effective October 1, 2021 (allegedly there will also be testing requirements for non-vaccinated health care providers starting September 1, 2021). While the initial announcement appeared extremely broad, to date no orders, regulations or proposed regulations have been released and thus the actual mandate may look very different than the announcements.
  • August 12, 2021 – Governor McKee has signed Executive Order 21-84, which again extends the order requiring quarantine for (a) those diagnosed with COVID-19 and (b) for unvaccinated individuals who have had known close contact to with someone with COVID-19 until September 1, 2021.
  • August 4, 2021 – Massachusetts mandated certain nursing homes require their workers to be vaccinated by October 10, 2021. Those facilities that fail to keep documentation showing that 75% or more of their workers are vaccinated by that date could receive an order to stop accepting new admissions until the 75% threshold is reached. Click to view COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Order No. 2021-4.
  • July 28, 2021 – The CDC has updated its guidance to recommend that fully vaccinated individuals wear masks indoors while in locations of substantial or high transmission: No areas of RI fall within the CDC’s substantial or high transmission designation and the following counties in Massachusetts fall within the designation: Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket and Suffolk.

As always, the CDC guidance has absolutely no legal effect. On some occasions, state officials have been influenced by the guidance in passing their own orders or recommendations, although on many occasions, local officials make their own, differing mandates and recommendations. Rhode Island and Massachusetts have yet to update their recommendations for vaccinated individuals.

  • July 26, 2021 – The Town of Provincetown, Massachusetts has announced that a mask mandate was enacted in the emergency meeting of the Provincetown Board of Health, Select Board and Barnstable County last night. View mandate details here. No information has been released as to the penalties or enforcement mechanisms of the mandate. According to the press release, the mandate applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals while indoors at restaurants, venues, bars, fitness centers, lodgings, shops, offices and spaces open to the public, as well as to unvaccinated individuals outdoors when social distancing cannot be maintained.

St. Louis County’s new mask mandate (applying to both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals indoors) also begins today and LA County, California issued a mask order at the end of last week with similar provisions.

  • July 23, 2021 – COVID-19 has made remote work more prevalent. Employers considering making these work-from-home arrangements permanent need to be prepared for the compliance issues that arise when the remote work crosses state lines. PS&H attorneys Russell Stein and Alicia Samolis were recently interviewed by Providence Business News to discuss some of these concerns. Read more.
  • July 16, 2021 – Governor McKee has signed Executive Order 21-79, which extends the order that allows individuals who are paid unemployment benefits for reasons related to COVID-19 to collect against the general fund (meaning employers are not penalized). The order now expires August 14, 2021 unless otherwise extended.
  • July 14, 2021 – Governor McKee has signed Executive Order 21-78, which extends the order requiring quarantine for (a) those diagnosed with COVID-19 and (b) for unvaccinated individuals who have had known close contact to with someone with COVID-19 until August 12, 2021.
  • July 6, 2021 – Governor McKee has signed Executive Order 21-76, which terminates several previous Executive Orders and essentially ends the Rhode Island COVID safety requirements for businesses. The Executive Order terminates Executive Order 21-68, which (a) imposed requirements regarding quarantining after travel, (b) mandated that businesses comply with RIDOH Regulations (which required employer screening, adoption of COVID safety plans and several other safety measures) and (c) gave RIDOH the authority to promulgate Regulations. It also terminates Executive Order 21-69 (the mask order) which among other things required unvaccinated individuals to wear masks indoors and businesses to remind those individuals of this requirement.

The order requiring quarantine for those with COVID and for unvaccinated individuals with close contact with those with COVID still remains.

  • June 18, 2021 – Rhode Island has extended its mask order (with a slight modification relating to indoor live performances) and its quarantine/business restriction order (eliminating the capacity limits to nightclubs). Both orders now expire July 17, 2021. Surprisingly, the travel quarantine for unvaccinated individuals entering Rhode Island from international trips or states deemed to be high risk still remains in effect (despite most states dropping their travel orders). Finally, the order providing employers’ unemployment accounts will not be charged for COVID related claims has also been extended to July 17, 2021. View Executive Order 21-69Executive Order 21-68 and Executive Order 21-70.
  • June 15, 2021 – Governor McKee signed Executive Order 21-66, which extends the Quarantine Order without change to July 14, 2021. This order requires quarantine for individuals who have COVID-19 or who are not vaccinated/recently recovered from COVID-19 and have a close contact with someone with COVID-19.
  • June 7, 2021 – The new Massachusetts emergency paid sick leave law requires employers of all sizes provide paid time off for COVID-19 related reasons to Massachusetts employees, and mandates a new notice be distributed. Read client alert, Massachusetts Mandatory Emergency Paid Sick Leave Starts Now, where PS&H partners Michael Gamboli and Alicia Samolis explain the law’s requirements.
  • June 2, 2021 – Governor McKee released two orders that drop the requirement for unvaccinated individuals to wear masks if closer than 3 feet from others outdoors (so no one has to wear masks outside). Executive Order 21-62 and Executive Order 21-63.
  • May 28, 2021 – Employers need to monitor developments concerning the ARPA as it relates to COBRA. PS&H employment attorneys highlight two items in the recent IRS FAQ publication that expand the potential reach of the ARPA. Click to read client alert, IRS FAQ Expands Free COBRA Entitlement
  • May 21, 2021 – May 21, 2021 – As expected, Executive Order 21-57 allows all business to be at 100% capacity and eliminates group attendance restrictions. Business still must comply with the RIDOH regulations. Revised RIDOH Regulations (which are binding law) can be viewed here and revised RIDOH Reopening Guidance (which are best practices) can be viewed here. Businesses no longer have to follow certain cleaning practices or have COVID plans. There are additional industry-specific requirements in rare situations (such as live performances, nightclubs and saunas).

The remaining requirements include:

(a) Businesses must hang signs at entrances reminding unvaccinated people to wear masks.

(b) Employers must have masks available to employees.

(c) Masks must be worn in schools, health care settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and public transportation.

(d) Unvaccinated persons must wear masks when within 3 feet of others. If an unvaccinated employee refuses to wear a mask, then the employer cannot allow them to work, but there is no requirement the employer verify vaccination (we would advise clients just to have a policy regarding the same).

(e) Businesses must have signs at entrances containing the symptoms and advising those who have the symptoms, who have COVID or have COVID exposure (and are not vaccinated) cannot enter.

(f) Businesses must exclude people with visible signs of COVID (or who have informed the employer they have symptoms of COVID), but there is no required screening or monitoring other than the aforementioned poster.

(g) Businesses must hang all additional posters that are applicable found on or self-created signs with the same information.

(h) Businesses must “cooperate” with the DOH if contacted in connection with COVID exposures/cases.

Executive Order 21-58 makes a small change to clarify workers who are unvaccinated in private work spaces do not need to wear a mask if they are three feet from others even if they could be approached by someone at closer than 3 feet.

  • May 20, 2021 – Executive Order 21-56 is an extension of various previous Executive Orders to June 18, 2021. This includes Executive Order 20-19, which provides that charges to employers’ unemployment accounts for individuals who are paid unemployment benefits for reasons related to COVID-19 are suspended.
  • May 19, 2021 – The regulations relating to the most recent Rhode Island order have been released and can be viewed here. In addition to expected changes, the requirement for businesses to screen employees and visitors for symptoms has been eliminated. Businesses still have to have the poster at entrances regarding the symptoms. Two updated posters regarding the mask order have been released as well. The poster for a business who will not be requiring masks for vaccinated individuals can be downloaded here. The poster for a business who will continue to require masks despite the new order can be downloaded here.
  • May 18, 2021 – Rhode Island has released Executive Order 21-54 dropping the mask requirement except in limited circumstances, such as in a ride share, taxi or public transportation. Businesses (like stores) who are open to the public will now be required to hang signs reminding unvaccinated people to wear masks. Workers in closed offices will only have to wear masks if the worker is unvaccinated and within 3 feet of others.While the underlying regulations, guidelines and posters have not yet been updated, it appears pretty clear from the orders and McKee’s latest stated intentions that physical distancing will not be required and businesses will no longer have to conduct contact tracing when there is a positive case.A second order, Executive Order 21-55, has now opened nightclubs. A nightclub can operate at 50% or, with DBR permission and if vaccine cards/records are presented, 100% if entry is restricted to those who present evidence of full vaccination. That last part is interesting as it is the only instance in Rhode Island where a business needs to actually review vaccination cards/records in order to do something.
  • May 7, 2021 – The Rhode Island mask order, Executive Order 21-47, has been released. Masks no longer have to be worn under the following circumstances:(1) Outside by anyone unless they cannot maintain 3 feet of distance from others.
    (2) While working (indoors and outdoors) if 3 feet distance can be maintained between workers. This exception does not apply to public places like stores.
    (3) While eating or drinking or for any of the previously-existing exceptions.No vaccination is needed for these exceptions to apply.
  • May 7, 2021 – Governor McKee released Executive Order 21-46. As anticipated, the order increases capacity limits of many establishments to 80%, including offices. In addition, for establishments that had spacing requirements in the prior order, such as gyms, the spacing has been decreased from 6 feet to 3 feet. Unmasked indoor singers still must remain at a 6 foot distance (a decrease from 14 feet). The spacing requirements for offices are contained within guidance incorporated by reference within the order (but are not contained in the order itself) and the new guidance has yet to be released. Also as expected, the indoor personal gatherings have increased from 15 to 25.There are a couple more changes that were not covered in McKee’s prior press release, which include the elimination of the 12:00 bar seating closing time, the elimination of the 90 minute maximum for restaurant seating and the new allowance of those seated at the bar to be spaced 3 feet apart (without plexiglass).Finally, the expiration date on the order is May 27th, which is consistent with McKee’s stated intention to have 100% capacity by May 28th.
  • April 30, 2021 – The Rhode Island mask order has been amended, effective immediately, to allow fully vaccinated individuals to not wear a mask if outside and three feet away from others. Executive Order 21-42.
  • April 29, 2021 – The Massachusetts mask order has been amended to allow anyone outside not to wear a mask if six feet from others. COVID-19 Order 67
  • April 27, 2021 – Governor Baker announced his intentions for Massachusetts at a press conference today. Keep in mind until he issues an order, this could change. According to the governor, the following changes will be made:

(a) April 30 (this Friday): face coverings order will be eliminated outdoors in public places, except for situations where it is not possible to maintain social distance and when required by business-specific guidelines. So far, the mask order will continue indoors.

(b) May 10: Large venues such as sports arenas can increase capacity to 25%, amusement parks can open at 50% capacity, road races will be allowed.

(c) May 29: Public gathering limits will increase, street festivals can be held at 50% capacity, bars can reopen with seated service only, restaurants may be allowed to eliminate food service requirement and increase maximum table size to 10.

(d) Aug. 1: All capacity limits will be at 100% and business restrictions will be eliminated. There is a caveat on the Massachusetts website that this may change depending on the vaccine distribution rate.

  • April 26, 2021 – The part of the Rhode Island order restricting spectators at sports played by minors and prohibiting high-risk amateur sports was eliminated effective immediately through Executive Order 21-39. The more important order lifting Rhode Island restrictions starting May 7th has still not been published.
  • April 22, 2021 – The Rhode Island Department of Health has revised its COVID-19 Regulations. The two relevant changes are: (a) the breakroom restrictions applicable to all employers have been rescinded; and (b) hotels no longer need to require guests complete and submit a certificate of compliance with out of state travel quarantine/testing requirements.
  • April 22, 2021 – Governor McKee announced he is planning to begin lifting restrictions starting May 7th and again on May 28th. No order has passed to this effect, but the graphic seen here was released during the press conference. Many of the planned changes are significant. For example, McKee plans to lift the mask order (despite the latest extension) starting May 7th to only apply indoors if less than 3 feet cannot be maintained and offices will be able to return to 80% capacity May 7th (100% by May 28th for virtually all industries).
  • April 21, 2021 – Governor McKee signed Executive Order 21-37, which extends both the mask order and the order that does not charge employer’s unemployment accounts for benefits paid for COVID-19 related reasons until May 20, 2021 (without change).
  • April 19, 2021 – Governor McKee signed Executive Order 21-36, which extends various previously signed Executive Orders to May 17, 2021 without any change. Of some surprise is one of the orders that was extended without change is Executive Order 21-34, which sets forth specific workplace/industry specific restrictions. These restrictions include the continued 50% office capacity requirement (with no provision allowing for additional workers who are fully vaccinated to be present in the workplace).

Unsurprisingly, the following executive orders were also extended:

(a)  Executive Order 21-26 (quarantine/self-isolation requirements, which already had vaccine exceptions);

(b) Executive Order 21-29: (re: capacity limits in retail spaces/dining limits); and

(c) Executive Order 21-34: (the order with the gradual increase in capacity to venues of assembly – the next one will take effect May 15th, 2021 and allow a 50% capacity with up to 500 people indoors and 1,000 people outdoors).

  • April 9, 2021 – Governor McKee Governor McKee signed Executive Order 21-34. The Order lifts some restrictions to indoor and outdoor gatherings and indoor and outdoor venues of assembly. Per the Order:1. Attendance at indoor gatherings is limited to 15 people. Indoor catered events with licensed catering on site or in a restaurant may have up to 75% of regular seating capacity with a cap of: (a) 100 people until May 14, 2021; (b) 150 people beginning May 15, 2021; and (c) 200 people beginning June 4, 2021.2. Attendance at outdoor social gatherings is limited to 50 people. Outdoor catered events with licensed catering on site or in a restaurant may have up to (a) 200 people until May 14, 2021; (b) 250 people beginning May 15, 2021; and (c) 300 people beginning June 4, 2021.3. Venues of assembly, including convention centers, concert halls, performance venues, spectator sporting event venues and theaters may operate (a) until May 14, 2021, up to 50% of capacity with a cap of 250 people indoors and 500 people outdoors; (b) beginning May 15, 2021, up to 50% capacity with a cap of 500 people indoors and 1,000 people outdoors, and (c) beginning June 4, 2021, up to 50% capacity with a cap of 500 people indoors and 2,000 people outdoors. Any event occurring between May 1, 2021 and May 14, 2021 above the 250 people indoors and 500 people outdoors limit may apply for approval from the DBR to hold events up to 500 people indoors or 1,000 people outdoors by submitting a detailed COVID-19 control plan at least 14 days in advance of the event.Despite containing the future restrictions listed above, the order expires April 17th.
  • March 30, 2021 – The Rhode Island Department of Health has revised their regulations to eliminate the requirement that all businesses must keep a cleaning log (documenting the date, time, location and procedures for cleaning activities). The requirement tended to be one often missed by employers and was not particularly practical. The underlying cleaning requirements remain intact. Click here to view details.
  • March 29, 2021 – The ARPA makes a sweeping change to COBRA, requiring employers to pay for eligible employees (and their family members) COBRA costs for up to six months while also providing employers a tax credit to recoup those costs. Read more.
  • March 23, 2021 – The recently passed American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) expands the scope of both the EPSL and EFMLA to allow employers to voluntarily provide additional leave from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021. The new FFCRA leave under the ARPA is not mandatory. PS&H partners Michael Gamboli and Alicia Samolis detail highlights of the expansion in their Client Alert, New FFCRA Leave Starts April 1, 2021.
  • March 22, 2021 – Massachusetts entered Phase IV, Step 1 of reopening through an Executive Order entitled “March 22, 2021 Appendix Adjusting Gathering Limits Set in COVID-19 Order No. 63” and Executive Order 66. Most significantly, there is now no Massachusetts travel order (only travel recommendations) requiring quarantine following any travel. In addition, stadiums, arenas and ballparks will be able to operate at 12% capacity. Gathering limits for event venues increased to 100 people indoors and 150 people outdoors (private gatherings remain at 10 people indoors/ 25 people outdoors).
  • March 19, 2021 – Rhode Island has loosened its restrictions pursuant to Executive Order 21-26 and Executive Order 21-27both of which expire on April 17, 2021. Through the orders:

    • The 90 day provision relating to vaccines (requiring the vaccination to have been completed within 90 days) has been eliminated, so that anyone fully vaccinated (following 14 days after vaccination completion) does not need to quarantine after close-contacts or travel. For those who have had COVID and recovered, the 90 day period remains (so that if the recovery was over 90 days ago, the person must still quarantine).
    • Office-based businesses may have up to 50% of workers at the same time regardless of the ability to work from home. As before, despite capacity limits, employees who have to perform work onsite can still do so.
    • Indoor dining has increased to 75%. There are no restrictions as to the number of households per table, but only 8 people may be seated at a table.
    • Capacity at indoor catered events, retail businesses, gyms, religious services and venues of assembly have increased capacity.
    • Capacity of indoor social gatherings (outside of catered events) is 15 people (50 outdoors). There are no further limitations related to the number of households.
  • March 12, 2021 – Rhode Island Executive Order 21-24 was passed to amend Executive Order 21-22. The order makes small adjustments, such as allowing bars to remain open until midnight in the case of customers who are seated and order food by 11pm. 
  • March 5, 2021 – Rhode Island issued Executive Order 21-22, which is a slightly revised version Executive Order 21-17, regarding travel quarantines and business restrictions. The order will expire on April 3rd. The significant changes are as follows:

    • Now an individual only has to quarantine after domestic travel to a higher risk state until he or she receives a negative test after entering RI (you will recall the previously-existing order, the test had to be taken after 5 days of the individual’s return to the state, and prior to that order, the test could be taken three days before that return). The other exceptions still apply.
    • Pre-event testing is required for social gatherings where there is a caterer if the event exceeds 15 attendees (regardless of whether the event is at a restaurant, caterer or private home).
    • Restaurant indoor capacity has increased from 50% to 66% indoors.
    • Gyms/sporting facilities capacity has decreased to 1 person per 100 square feet (down from 1 person per 125 square feet).

Finally, separate from this order, the Rhode Island Department of Health has published updated guidance for Funeral Homes. Per the Guidance, calling hours and wakes may have up to 15 people indoors at one time; funerals and memorial services at funeral homes may have up to 30 people indoors at one time; and no more than 50 people can attend an outdoor gravesite service.

  • February 25, 2021 – Massachusetts has released its new order, effective March 1, 2021, moving the state into Stage 2 of Step III. This will allow for a building capacity limit of 50% for many industries, including office-based businesses. Restaurants will no longer have a percent capacity limit and will be permitted to host musical performances; six-foot social distancing, limits of six people per table and 90 minute limits remain in place. Click to view the Executive Order 65.
  • February 25, 2021 – Rhode Island issued two new executive orders, which provide lower quarantine standards for asymptomatic individuals who have recovered from COVID in the past 90 days or have completed the final dose of the vaccine within the last 90 days. Specifically, such individuals do not have to quarantine after travel or close contact with a positive individual. With respect to the recovery portion, the 90 day expiration period runs from the onset of symptoms (if there were any symptoms) or positive test date. With respect to the vaccine portion, the exception does not apply if the person lives in an assisted living facility or nursing home or is admitted to the hospital and the “final dose” must be received (meaning either one dose for those vaccines to be approved to be one dose or the second dose for vaccines approved only for two-dose use). Click to view Executive Order 21-17 and Executive Order 21-18.
  • February 23, 2021 – Rhode Island issued Executive Order 21-16, extending the previously issued Executive Order 20-19, allowing former employees to collect unemployment benefits for COVID-19 reasons without it negatively impacting their former employer’s unemployment insurance rate. The order is extended to March 24, 2021.
  • February 12, 2021 – Rhode Island issued Executive Order 21-13, which slightly loosens COVID-19 restrictions. The Order expires on March 6, 2021. Of note is that social gatherings (public or private) now may include 2 households (indoors) and 3 households (outdoors). In addition, bar spaces (bar areas) are now open. They must be spaced out so that a maximum of 2 households (4 people total) are in each portion of a bar area (with a time limit of 90 minutes, and not later than 11pm). Churches are also allowed to have 40% (previously 25%) capacity.
  • January 21, 2021 – Massachusetts Governor, Charlie Baker, issued Executive Order 62, which extends the reduced capacity limits (such as the 40% building occupancy office requirement and the 25% capacity for entertainment facilities and restaurants) until February 8, 2021. The order repeals the 9:30pm curfew for restaurants, entertainment facilities and liquor/cannabis stores.
  • January 20, 2021 – Employers are no longer required to provide employees with FFCRA leave, but can opt to do so in the first quarter of 2021. PS&H employment attorneys explain how employers should handle the new FFCRA rules. Click to read more.
  • January 8, 2021 – Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts extended his December 9, 2020 order placing all municipalities within Massachusetts back to Phase Three, Step One of the reopening plan, to January 24, 2021. Previously, the order was expected to expire on January 10, 2021. The extended order limits indoor gatherings to 10 persons; outdoor gatherings to 25 persons; and most businesses and other venues (including places of worship) are permitted to operate at no more than 25% capacity. The original order can be viewed here and the extension order viewed here.
  • December 11, 2020 – Massachusetts released revised industry specific workplace safety standards that go into effect on December 13, 2020. The new office capacity is reduced from 50% to 40%. View the full revised Workplace Safety Standards for Office Spaces here.
  • December 9, 2020 – Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has released two new orders which will go into effect December 13, 2020.

    • The first order will put all municipalities into Phase Three, Step One, whereas currently some cities and towns had been in Phase Three, Step Two. The “roll back” has very little practical impact on businesses, with the exception of indoor theaters and indoor recreational facilities with great potential for contact. View the Order here.
    • The second order limits outdoor gatherings at venues to 25 people (50 with advance notice to the DOH) and private residence gatherings to 10 people indoors (25 people outside). View the Order here.
  • December 9, 2020 – The Small Business Administration (the “SBA”) released Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) Loans FAQ #53, which provides additional information regarding the Loan Necessity Questionnaires (SBA Forms 3509 or 3510) that will be required for all PPP borrowers that, together with their affiliates, received loans of $2 million or more. Read more.
  • November 10, 2020 – The Small Business Administration has announced in the Federal Register the release of two proposed questionnaires for recipients of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $2 million or greater. Read more.
  • November 9, 2020 – Executive Order No. 56 goes into effect “until rescinded or until the state of emergency is ended, whichever occurs first. The order includes the advancement of “Lower Risk Communities” to Phase III, Step 2. To view the list of communities that are not designated as “lower-risk” communities, which will remain in Step1 of Phase III of the Massachusetts reopening plan, click here.
  • October 22, 2020 – Yesterday, the CDC broadened the definition of “close contact” from being within 6 feet of the person for 15 or more consecutive minutes to being in contact for 15 or more total minutes over a 24-hour period (for example, three 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes). Read more.
  • October 8, 2020 – Employers are beginning to contemplate if they should require employees to take the COVID vaccine, once it’s developed. PS&H partner, Alicia Samolis, was asked recently to give her thoughts on this arising dilemma that employers face. Her insights are featured in a recent Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly article titled, Anticipating COVID Vaccine, Employers Ponder Best Course. Read more.
  • October 2, 2020 – Rhode Island Executive Order 20-81, which can be viewed here, extends various other previous Orders to November 2, 2020. Amongst other Orders, this Order: (i) extends the Order on mandatory mask wearing; (ii) extends the Order on unemployment accounts not being adversely affected during the pandemic; and (iii) extends the Order requiring mandatory quarantine for those diagnosed with COVID-19 and those informed by the Department of Health that they were a close contact with someone diagnosed as having COVID-19.
  • October 2, 2020 – The SBA has issued guidance under a procedural notice providing information concerning the required procedures for changes of ownership of an entity that has received a Payroll Protection Program loan. Click here for details.
  • September 21, 2020 – Rhode Island Commerce revised the eligibility criteria for the Restore RI grant program to allow more small businesses to receive aid. Read details here.
  • September 16, 2020 – The Department of Labor (“DOL”) published a new temporary rule (“New Rule”) revising and clarifying its previous April 1, 2020 temporary rule (“Prior Rule”) concerning the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). Read more.
  • September 1, 2020 – Impacts of COVID-19 create potential employer liability from wage and hour claims. PS&H attorneys Alicia Samolis and Suzanne Elovecky explain how to best prepare your company in an article recently published in The Anchor MagazineRead article.
  • August 28, 2020 – The IRS issued limited guidance on the payroll tax deferral that was part of President Trump’s August 8th executive order. Read more here.
  • August 27, 2020 – The Department of Labor (DOL) added frequently asked questions 98-100 regarding FFCRA leave involving school closures. Specifically, the DOL has now said that employees are entitled to FFCRA leave for days taken to care for a child who is required to attend school remotely on an alternate day or hybrid basis. This new FAQ 98 directly contradicts FAQ 22, which clearly states such intermittent leave may only be provided if the employer agrees. Employers are encouraged to watch this issue closely given that the DOL may change its position prior to the start of the school year. The DOL’s new FAQs also specify that where the school system gives the parents the option for in-person learning and the parents opt for at-home or hybrid learning, none of the time caring for the child during remote learning is eligible for FFCRA because the school is not “closed”. While this guidance is consistent with prior guidance issued by the DOL, employers must remember that they will not be eligible to receive a tax credit for time off paid associated with optional hybrid learning.
  • August 25, 2020 – Employers must be wary of how state-ordered travel restrictions can adversely impact their workforce. Read about the current restrictions and strategies to address potential staffing problems here.
  • August 12, 2020 – Partridge Snow & Hahn Counsel and Chair of the Charitable and Nonprofit Organizations Group, Elizabeth (“Liz”) Manchester is featured in the Rhode Island Foundation’s Advisor spotlight. The spotlight highlights the work that Liz is doing to help guide nonprofits as they plan for the future after COVID-19. Read more here.
  • August 11, 2020 – A federal court in New York (“Court”) recently struck down a number of important provisions contained within the Final Rule issued by the Department of Labor (“DOL”) interpreting the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (“FFCRA”), sending employers scrambling to understand whether the ruling has national impact and how to adjust their company policies applying the FFCRA. Read more here.
  • August 4, 2020 – The U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) and the Department of the Treasury released long-awaited FAQs providing guidance to both lenders and borrowers on Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loan forgiveness. Click here for details.
  • August 3, 2020 – PS&H partner Paul Kessimian contributes his knowledge and insight in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island’s first Virtual Litigation Academy video titled, How to Conduct a Bench Trial via Zoom. In the video, Mr. Kessimian and other practitioners and court personnel discuss the technical and logistical aspects of preparing for a court appearance via zoom, including the preparation of witness. Then, there is a mock examination of witnesses (both cross and direct exam) before Judge William E. Smith of the U.S. District Court. Lastly, a panel of experts—including Judge Smith, Chief Judge John J. McConnell of the U.S. District Court, and Judge Brian P. Stern of the Rhode Island Superior Court—discuss their views on trial proceedings conducted via Zoom. The full video is available to view here:
  • July 31, 2020 – Rhode Island Commerce will begin accepting applications for “Restore RI” grants for small businesses on Monday August 3, 2020, Click here to learn more.
  • July 30, 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost every business and nonprofit organization. To better weather the storm, in addition to traditional fundraising techniques, charitable organizations should consider expanding their fundraising and mission reach by engaging in commercial co-ventures with for-profit entities, joint ventures with nonprofit and for-profit entities, or possibly merging with other nonprofits to assure long-term viability of their charitable purposes. PS&H counsel Liz Manchester and Russell Stein detail each of these options here.
  • July 22, 2020 – After delay due to the COVID-19 State of Emergency, the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation (DBR) has opened the application period for businesses that would like to obtain a license to operate one of 6 new medical marijuana dispensaries. Read PS&H partner John Ottaviani’s blog post here.
  • July 22, 2020 – Two bills have recently been introduced in the U.S. Senate to help state and local bond issuers deal with the financial hardships caused by COVID-19. Click here to read more.
  • July 21, 2020 – Massachusetts Governor, Charlie Baker, has extended Chapter 65 of the Acts of 2020, An Act Providing for a Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures During the COVID-19 Emergency, by 60 days through October 17, 2020. Click here to read more.
  • July 21, 2020 – Massachusetts Governor, Charlie Baker, has extended Chapter 65 of the Acts of 2020, An Act Providing for a Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures During the COVID-19 Emergency, by 60 days through October 17, 2020. Click here to read more.
  • July 20, 2020 – COVID-19 – Commercial Contract Litigation, hosted by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) on July 20, 2020 regarding likely trends in commercial contract litigation in light of COVID-19. The panel, including PS&H partner Paul Kessimian, discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and related stay-at-home orders potential effects on breach of contract actions concerning goods and services and reviewed contractual and UCC issues that judges could expect to find in such cases. The entire webinar can be viewed by choosing July webinars here.
  • July 16, 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses online in order to survive. In many cases, businesses had no plans to be online. Others were forced to move online more quickly than planned. In order to assist these businesses, we have prepared a series of articles discussing some of the more important legal issues to address when moving your business online. Click here for the full series.
  • July 15, 2020 – The Rhode Island Governor, Gina Raimondo, announced a new small businesses grant program to be administered through Rhode Island Commerce. PS&H attorney, David DiSegna, highlights anticipated eligibility criteria and likely application requirements. Click here to learn more.
  • July 6, 2020 – Massachusetts updated its requirements for several specific industries, including office spaces. View the new Safety Standards for Office Spaces here.Three things of note:

    • The occupancy limits are more relaxed. Now the standards require no more than 10 persons per 1000 square feet of accessible office space and no more than 50% of occupancy limit (if any) in the permit. In other words, there is no limit relating to the prior number of workers present in the office. Such occupancy count must include customers, staff and other workers.
    •  The definition of “close contact” for tracing/quarantine purposes is also more relaxed. “Close contact” is now defined to be within 6 feet for 15 or more minutes (rather than 10 minutes, as previously defined).
    • There is now a specific requirement Employers screen for certain symptoms, which include the new ones accepted by the CDC, such as runny nose. In addition, note that “fever” is now defined as a temperature over 100.0 not the usual 100.4 degrees.

The employer training requirement still remains. It is worth noting the training – as with last step – must include what symptoms are considered “severe” enough to seek medical attention and what underlying conditions make an employee more susceptible to contracting and suffering a severe case of the virus.

  • July 6, 2020 – Step 1 of Phase III of the Massachusetts reopening plan begins (except for Boston, which will start July 13). The Order can be viewed here. Step 3 will be bifurcated into two steps with Step 2 commencing on a later (unannounced) date. This new Step allows for more businesses and other organizations to re-open to the public following closure due to COVID-19, including certain educational institutes, fitness centers and health clubs, museums, and movie theaters. This Step also allows for larger social gatherings, increasing indoor gathering to 8 persons per 1000 square feet up to 25 persons in a single enclosed indoor space and permitting 25% of the maximum permitted occupancy of an outdoor gathering in enclosed, permitted, or leased spaces. Bars, amusement parks, wineries, stadiums, and street festivals are among the businesses and organizations that will be part of Step 2 of the Phase 3 reopening plan.
  • June 22, 2020 – Step 2 of the Phase 2 Re-Opening plan commenced. Among other things, this Step increased the maximum occupancy for Offices Spaces. Businesses and other organizations were now allowed 50% of either (1) the maximum occupancy of the building per the certificate of occupancy or the state building code, or (2) the typical occupancy of the business or organization as of March 1, 2020. The Order can be viewed here.
  • June 16, 2020 – As we move into summer and businesses are reopening, many employers are being confronted with a new, challenging question — whether employees are eligible for leave under the FFCRA based upon a lack of summer child care options despite some child care facilities re-opening and despite school being out for the summer. PS&H attorneys Sheridan King and Michael Gamboli explain here.
  • June 11, 2020 – Employers may need to re-issue restrictive covenant agreements to employees returning to work following a COVID-19 lay-off, furlough, or job modification. PS&H attorneys Josh Xavier and Michael Gamboli explain why this is crucial. Click here.
  • May 18, 2020 – Governor Baker of Massachusetts announced that licensed recreational marijuana retailers will be allowed to reopen on May 25, 2020, on a limited basis. The retailers will be limited to walk-up and curb-side sales only, with no customers allowed inside. Retailers that reopen must comply with mandated safety guidelines.
  • May 18, 2020 – The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission announced that, effective immediately, licensees can reopen their businesses to conduct licensed cultivation, product manufacturing, transportation and testing operations. The operations are subject to mandated safety guidelines. A copy of the Commission’s order can be found here.
  • May 18, 2020 – The governor of Massachusetts is opening certain non-essential businesses starting today. See: Non-essential construction and manufacturing businesses open 12:00am May 19th; hair salons and barbers are set for opening for hair-cutting services only on May 25th; Massachusetts offices outside of Boston are set for a May 25th and Boston offices are set to open June 1. Businesses reopening must comply with certain new safety guidelines applicable to all businesses (such as having a specific written plan and hanging certain posters). It is important to understand that essential businesses will also have to comply with the new general guidelines by May 25th.The materials posted on the Massachusetts re-opening website indicate the governor’s intention to include mandatory industry-specific restrictions, such as capacity limits for offices and safety glasses for hair stylists. The materials posted on the website also indicate that the industry-specific restrictions will apply to essential businesses within that category, but allot a greater time to comply (for example, essential office businesses are currently planned to have until July 1st to comply with the planned new restrictions specific to offices).
  • May 12, 2020 – The United States Department of Labor (DOL) has once again updated its guidance for employers on the implementation of emergency FMLA and emergency sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Click here for current information.
  • May 6, 2020 – The Rhode Island governor issued an order requiring individuals to wear masks when they cannot maintain 6 feet from others (inside and outside) and while in grocery stores, retain stores, pharmacies and utilizing transportation (including public transportation, taxis and ride sharing). The order is effective on Friday, May 8th and will expire on June 4, 2020.
  • May 4, 2020 – Effective May 6th, individuals in Massachusetts are required to wear a face covering while in public if unable to remain 6 feet from others. This specifically applies regardless of social distancing in stores and while using transportation services. The full order is available here.
  • April 28, 2020 – The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office extended filings deadlines, for a second time, for COVID-19 related delays. The new announcement extends to June 1, 2020, the due date for certain filings due between March 27, 2020 and May 31, 2020. The list of patent filing can be found here. The list of trademark filings which have been extended can be found here. PS&H partner John Ottaviani details how a qualified delay is determined. USPTO Extends Filing Deadlines For COVID-19 Related Delays PS&H Client Alert published April 1, 2020 and updated April 29, 2020.
  • April 23, 2020 – Massachusetts Public Charities Division extends filing deadlines for nonprofits. Click here to view notice.
  • April 20, 2020 – The U.S. Chamber Foundation is teaming up with corporate and philanthropic partners to establish the Save Small Business Fund to provide $5,000 grants to as many small employers as possible. The grant-making initiative is to offer short-term relief for small employers in the U.S. and its territories. To qualify you must employ between 3 and 20 people, be located in an economically vulnerable community and have been harmed financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information visit
  • April 16, 2020 – A Massachusetts state judge upheld Governor Baker’s order that recreational marijuana businesses are not essential and must remain closed during the COVID-19 health emergency.
  • April 14, 2020 – As included in the order given by Governor Raimondo, starting Saturday, April 18, 2020, Rhode Island nonprofit organizations who have employees working on site must provide (buy) face coverings or materials to make face coverings and require employees wear them while within 6 feet of one another (regardless if they are customer-facing), including temporary close contacts in restrooms, breakrooms and entryways. For more information see the DBR Guidance for Wearing of Cloth Face Coverings At Work. The full Rhode Island Executive Order can be viewed here.
  • April 14, 2020 – RI Governor Gina Raimondo orders wearing of face masks. The Governor issued a supplement to Executive Order 20-14, requiring that as of April 18, 2020, all employees of customer-facing businesses, office based businesses, non-profit organizations and any other business category as determined by the DBR wear cloth face coverings, unless the employee can easily, continuously, and measurably maintain at least six (6) feet of distance from other employees or unless doing so would damage the employee’s health. Businesses are required at their own expense to provide either face coverings or materials for the making of face coverings. Customer-facing businesses must also takes steps to require customers to wear face coverings, including the posting of a notice at the entrance to the business. The complete supplement is available here. On April 15, 2020, the Department of Business Regulation expanded the list of employers that must provide face coverings to employees to include manufacturers, food service employers and construction companies. For more information see the DBR Guidance for Wearing of Cloth Face Coverings At Work.
  • April 14, 2020 – Governors are continuing to pass orders requiring essential businesses and other businesses which still have employees onsite to take certain safety precautions. In Rhode Island, the governor ordered that employers must provide and require retail employees to wear masks. The full order can be viewed here. Employers also must provide and require masks to be worn in non-retail establishments in common areas or other areas where 6 foot social distancing cannot be maintained. In Pennsylvania, a local order requires essential businesses to establish increased security measures and in New Jersey, a local order requires many essential businesses to provide and require both gloves and masks to be worn by their workers.
  • April 10, 2020 – Two orders from the Rhode Island governor on Friday positively impacted employers. First, Executive Order 20-19 indicates that unemployment claims filed for COVID-19 reasons will not be counted against employers’ accounts (meaning their rates will not go up as they usually do when an employee files for unemployment). Second, Executive Order 20-20 created certain quarantine restrictions but exempted employees in the public health, public safety, social services or healthcare industries.
  • April 8, 2020 – The CDC updated their guidance regarding critical employees who have been exposed to COVID-19 (such as those identified by an employee with positive contact as having direct contact). The CDC now says the employees may return to the workplace if they are asymptomatic, wear a face mask and practice social distancing (rather than keeping the exposed worker home for 14 days). The CDC also now says that “close contact” includes the 48 hour period prior to the employee being symptomatic. Employers should be careful to also check local orders and regulations to ensure their action does not violate the same prior to following the CDC guidance. The CDC also published a pamphlet for employer use regarding the new guidance. The updated CDC guidance can be found here.
  • April 6, 2020 – Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the EPA has issued a temporary policy of enforcement discretion toward noncompliance issues. PS&H counsel Christian Capizzo summarizes what is and what is not included in the temporary policy. View here.
  • April 2, 2020 – If you have employees who are physically going into work despite a shelter order or closure order because your business is exempt as an essential business (or in Rhode Island, the individual is unable to work from home), employers are advised to provide the employee a letter that sets forth who they work for, what the employer does and the nature of the exemption. While such a letter is not required in RI and MA, it will make the employee more confident during their commute and in the event the employee is questioned, the letter can help avoid the employee articulating the need to traveling, leading to additional questioning of the employer.
  • April 2, 2020 – The Temporary Rule regarding Paid Leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act has been released and can be viewed here.
  • April 1, 2020 – Partridge Snow & Hahn Partner and Chair of the Employment & Labor Practice, Alicia Samolis, served as a panelist at PBN’s Spring Health Care Summit. Alicia spoke about the impacts the Coronavirus has had from the human resources and employment law perspective. The summit, which focused solely on the Coronavirus pandemic, was a virtual event. To read PBN’s recap and to view a full recording of the virtual event click here.
  • March 31, 2020 – Many people in the construction industry believe the force majeure clause waives the requirement for making a claim for an extension of time. A Force Majeure Trap Within Construction Contracts PS&H Client Alert published March 31, 2020.
  • March 31, 2020 – The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced waivers and 30 day extensions of the deadlines for many (but not all) patent and trademark filings that fall between March 27, 2020 and April 30, 2020, inclusive.
  • March 31, 2020 – On Tuesday, March 31st, the Small Business Administration posted a press release announcing that the SBA and U.S. Treasury Department are mobilizing banks and other lending institutions to provide small businesses with the capital they need. Read how the new loan program will help small businesses with their operating expenses. Click here to view.
  • March 29, 2020 – On March 27, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”). The CARES Act included provisions enhancing the opportunities for individuals and corporations to make charitable contributions. PS&H counsel Liz Manchester explains the importance of developing comprehensive charitable giving opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic:501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organizations Update: CARES Act PS&H Client Alert published March 29, 2020
  • March 28, 2020 – Rhode Island issued a combination shelter/closure order on March 28,2020. The shelter part of the order has an exception for work that cannot be performed from home. The closure piece applies to non-essential retail effective and is effective March 30, 2020 (exemptions listed in the order). There is also a quarantine requirement for those coming to Rhode Island from out-of-state for non-work purposes.
  • March 27, 2020 – With many companies adjusting to fully remote operations, it is important to be aware of possible cyberattacks that companies are especially vulnerable to. For information on specific coronavirus scams to watch out for, visit the Federal Trade Commission website.
  • March 27, 2020 – The Massachusetts Cannabis Commission issued an administrative order temporarily authorizing medical marijuana treatment centers to offer curbside pickup to patients and caregivers to limit COVID-19 transmission during Massachusetts’ state of emergency, subject to compliance with a number of safety and operational requirements. Centers also can continue to sell products in their interior premises. The full order, which takes effect at noon on March 28, 2020, can be read here.
  • March 25, 2020 – The Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts has established the SouthCoast Emergency Response Fund to provide flexible resources to organizations that are working with the populations most vulnerable to COVID-19. Click here for details.
  • March 25, 2020 – The Families First Coronavirus Response Act Notice has been released. Employers should not only post the notice in a conspicuous place or places for all employees to see, but also mail or email the notice to employees working from home. In addition to the poster, frequently asked questions about the notice can viewed here.
  • March 24, 2020 – The DOL’s new informal guidance indicates the FFCRA will take effect April 1, 2020. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act [FFCRA – House No. 6201] was signed into law the night of March 18, 2020. While Regulations relating to FFCRA are not yet issued, on March 24 the Department of Labor has issued Questions and Answers that, among other things, set the effective date for both the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act as April 1. As a reminder, the FMLA Act amends the existing FMLA to allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of partially paid leave if needed to care for the employee’s child because the child’s school or daycare is closed or unavailable due to a public health emergency. The PSL Act provide 80 hours of fully or partially paid leave for a number of different reasons associated with COVID-19. Click here for the full set of Questions and Answers.
  • March 23, 2020 – Governor Baker of Massachusetts issued a new stay-at-home advisory and ordered all non-essential businesses closed beginning on Tuesday, March 24 at noon. Licensed medical marijuana retailers are considered “essential services” and are allowed to remain open. Licensed recreational marijuana retailers must close. Click here to view The Order. To view a list of essential services, as defined in Massachusetts, click here.
  • March 23, 2020 – On March 23, 2020, Governor Baker of Massachusetts issued a new stay-at-home advisory and ordered all non-essential businesses closed beginning on Tuesday, March 24 at noon. The Commonwealth has also issued new assemblage guidelines limiting gatherings to no greater than 10 people. Click to view The Order and The Assemblage Guidance. To view a list of essential services, as defined in Massachusetts, click here.
  • March 20, 2020 – Rhode Island Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island today announced that local nonprofit organizations at the forefront of COVID-19 response can apply for a COVID-19 Response Fund Grant.
  • March 20, 2020 – We are fielding a lot of inquiries from business owners, large and small, asking if their business interruption coverage will respond to losses caused by COVID-19 shutdowns. PS&H Managing Partner, Howard Merten, provides practical advice for businesses in need of guidance now: Will Business Interruption Insurance Be Available To Respond To COVID-19 Losses? PS&H Client Alert published March 20, 2020.
  • March 20, 2020 – The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced an emergency low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program for qualifying small businesses and private nonprofits in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut (and a number of other states) that have suffered substantial economic hardship as a result of Coronavirus (COVID-19), and that are unable to obtain credit elsewhere. The program allows borrowing of up to $2 million per eligible small business, and may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that cannot be paid because of COVID-19 impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%. Click here for more information and the SBA’s online application. Click here for additional SBA disaster assistance information.
  • March 20, 2020 – PS&H partner Michael Gamboli gives valuable insight into the Families First Act and the affect it has on small business owners as employers. Click here to listen to the podcast.
  • March 20, 2020 – The Families First Coronavirus Response Act [FFCRA – House No. 6201] was signed into law the night of March 18, 2020 and goes into effect no later than April 2, 2020. For employers, two key components of the FFCRA are the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (FMLA Act) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (PSL Act). The FMLA Act amends the existing FMLA to allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of partially paid leave if needed to care for the employee’s child because the child’s school or daycare is closed or unavailable due to a public health emergency. The PSL Act provide 80 hours of fully or partially paid leave for a number of different reasons associated with COVID-19. For more detailed information on the FFCRA click here.
  • March 20, 2020 – Local restrictions are beginning to issue that will have a severe impact on businesses. Even if your Company does not operate in one of the jurisdictions currently impacted, it is important to understand the trends so that your Company is prepared to respond to the same. Specifically, New York has issued an order requiring employers to reduce their on-site staff by 75%, Pennsylvania has shut down non-life sustaining businesses (even those not open to the public) and California has restricted employees abilities to go to work. Importantly, these orders are generally building in essential business exceptions, which may be more broad than anticipated. For example, Pennsylvania’s interpretation of what is “life sustaining” can be found here.
  • March 19, 2020 – While businesses may not be able to easily change existing agreements, they should take steps to ensure that they are protected going forward. This advisory addresses some common pitfalls and highlights issues to consider when negotiating agreements in light of the current state of affairs. Addressing the Novel Coronavirus in Your Contracts PS&H Client Alert published 3/19/20
  • March 19, 2020 – The MGCC Small Business Recovery Loan fund has already stopped accepting applications, but the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Fund is accepting applications from Massachusetts businesses. If you applied for (or considered applying for) a MGCC loan, you may want to consider applying for an EIDL loan. Click here to view.
  • March 19, 2020 – Force majeure provisions are included in contracts to excuse a party’s failure to perform due to unforeseeable events outside the party’s control. Not all force majeure provisions are created equal, and the coronavirus may trigger some, but not others. PS&H attorneys Patrick Niebauer, Brian Reilly and David Wittmann explain: Interpreting the Force Majeure Clause in Your Contract PS&H Article published March 19, 2020
  • March 18, 2020 – On March 18, 2020, Governor Baker announced that for certain eligible small businesses, Massachusetts would postpone the deadlines for payment of sales tax and meals tax for the months of March, April, and May. This does not cancel the obligation to pay these taxes but postpones the deadline to pay until June 20, 2020. In order to be eligible for the postponement, a business must have owed less than $150,000 in regular sales and meals taxes in the year ending February 29, 2020. We expect that the Massachusetts Department of Revenue will provide more formal guidance and regulations on this postponement, and we will report any additional information as it becomes available. Click here to view.
  • March 17, 2020 – The Office of Cannabis Regulation of the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation issued a Bulletin permitting licensed medical marijuana compassion centers to implement limited curbside pickup and delivery plans during the pendency of the COVID-19 health emergency. Restrictions with respect to cleaning, disinfection, hygiene and social distancing remain in effect. Click here to view the Bulletin.
  • March 16, 2020 – COVID-19 will impact how nonprofit organizations deliver mission-based services for the foreseeable future. Liz Manchester shares some action steps nonprofit executives, leaders and board members can take to minimize risk and mitigate the impact of the pandemic:How Nonprofit Organizations Can Mitigate Risk In Light Of Coronavirus Pandemic, PS&H Client Alert published March 16, 2020
  • March 16, 2020 – Please check our recommendations for best practices for preparing from a human resources standpoint and updates concerning emerging legal and business issues arising from the virus.
  • March 16, 2020 – Rhode Island and Massachusetts orders preventing consumption of food and beverages in restaurant and bars went into effect March 17, 2020. For those companies issuing lay-offs and furloughs as a result of the coronavirus, remember Rhode Island is explicitly waiving the seven-day waiting period to collect unemployment in the case of a furlough or lay-off if “covid-19” is noted on the application to collect benefits (see notice). Similarly, the Massachusetts DOL has filed emergency legislation to do the same and also to allow employees to collect unemployment that typically would be unable to do so because the employee is not seeking another job if either (a) the employee is unable to seek work for a corona-virus related reason (such as quarantines or sickness) or (b) the employee is on furlough, is in contact with the employer and would work if called by the employer during the furlough.
  • March 16, 2020 – Do you have over 100 employees and need to consider group terminations, furloughs and/or reductions in hours? Review this quick summary of what triggers the obligation to give notice under the WARN-Act.
  • March 10, 2020 – Business leaders should be thinking about common-sense approaches to reduce the impact of the coronavirus on their organizations. PS&H attorneys Patrick Niebauer, Brian Reilly, Lawrence Sheh and David Wittmann explain some basic preventative steps that businesses can take to limit business disruption, contract liability and financial losses from the coronavirus: What Businesses Can Do To Prepare For Coronavirus PS&H Client Alert published March 10, 2020
  • March 9, 2020 – On March 9, Governor Gina Raimondo issued an executive order suspending the Rhode Island Open Meetings Act prohibition on government bodies meeting remotely. The order, which will only be in place until April 15, requires public bodies that do meet remotely to provide some form of public access, through telephone or electronic means. The order can be viewed here.
  • March 6, 2020 – PS&H partner Alicia Samolis, provided comment to the Providence Business News (PBN) on the challenges employers are facing in balancing coronavirus concerns with the risk of unintentionally creating stigma and discrimination:Coronavirus Raises Workplace Issues as seen in Providence Business News, March 6, 2020
  • February 19, 2020 – The U.S. Center for Disease Control has issued interim Guidance for businesses and employers to plan and respond to COVID-19. PS&H attorneys Sheridan King and Michael Gamboli explain:Coronavirus: Guidance for Employers PS&H Client Alert published February 19, 2020
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