- October 15, 2021 - The Rhode Island state of emergency order has been extended through November 13, 2021. View Executive Order 21-103.
- October 1, 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.
- 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 30, 2021 - A Rhode Island Superior Court denied a firefighter union's TRO request seeking that the Court invalidate a vaccine mandate.
- 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 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 2, 2021 - Governor McKee signed a new and revised Isolation and Quarantine Order. The order now requires:
(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 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.
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. http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE23/23-1/23-1-25.HTM. 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.
- 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.
- 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 21-69, Executive 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 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 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).
- Businesses must hang signs at entrances reminding unvaccinated people to wear masks.
- Employers must have masks available to employees.
- Masks must be worn in schools, health care settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and public transportation.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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 aforementioned poster.
- Businesses must hang all additional posters that are applicable found on https://health.ri.gov/ or self-created signs with the same information.
- 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.
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:
(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.
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.
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 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).
1. Executive Order 21-26 (quarantine/self-isolation requirements, which already had vaccine exceptions);
2. Executive Order 21-29: (re: capacity limits in retail spaces/dining limits); and
- 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:
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 19, 2021 - Rhode Island has loosened its restrictions pursuant to Executive Order 21-26 and Executive Order 21-27, both 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).
- 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.