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Reopening Rhode Island
- 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.
- February 5, 2021 - Rhode Island passed Executive Order 21-11 and corresponding updated business guidance, which supersedes Executive Order 21-09 and makes a change to the office capacity requirement. Specifically, it states:
This would appear to mean greater than 33% of the workforce can work at the same time as long as they are performing tasks that require them to be on-premise.
The new order is more restrictive in some ways, than prior orders. The initial 33% limitation had a floor of 15 people (the greater of 15 or 33% working at one time). All prior capacity restrictions also had grandfathering provisions for companies that never shut down or reduced capacity. This was because Rhode Island does not have an essential business exception to its orders; rather, most essential businesses would have likely operated the entire time and thus be grandfathered under the old orders. Now an “essential” office that never closed will have to ensure either (a) only employees are working whose duties require them to be on-site or (b) no more than 33% of the workforce is working at one time.
Certain other restrictions have loosened as well. Two households can now eat indoors at restaurants (three outside). There is not a similar change to the prohibition on social gatherings outside of one household. In addition, gyms and indoor entertainment have an increased capacity.
- January 29, 2021 - Rhode Island Executive Order 21-09 extends restrictions that were previously determined by Executive Order 20-108, to be in effect until February 27, 2021. Two notable changes to the order includes:
- The international travel quarentine order has changed. Now the quarantine after international travel is the shorter of: (a) 10 days; or (b) seven days if a negative test is taken after 5 days.
- The curfews for restaurants haave been lifted.
- January 27, 2021 - Rhode Island Executive Order 21-08 extends the following orders to February 25, 2021 without any change:
- 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 17, 2021 - The CDC has published its travel order, which will become effective January 26, 2021. The order requires all travelers (including but not limited to US Citizens) coming to the United States from another country (except the US territories and possessions of the US) to present a negative COVID-19 test. The test must be taken within the 3 calendar days preceding the flight’s departure date from the foreign country. The passenger must attest to getting the negative test result and have written or electronic confirmation available for both presentation to the airline before departure and upon request of any U.S. government official or state or local health authority upon arrival that contains the following:
(ii) the test date (with the above date criteria).
(iv) the COVID-19 results state either “NEGATIVE” or “NOT DETECTED” (without being marked “invalid” in any respect).
There are special rules and/or exceptions for passengers with an overseas connection that last less than 24 hours or who are recovering from COVID, are crewmembers or who are younger than 2 years old. Airlines are responsible for confirming passengers onboard an inbound flight have such negative documentation and are required to have passengers attest that they have obtained the negative result. Passenger violations of the order come with criminal penalties. The full travel order can be viewed here.
- January 15, 2021 - Rhode Island Executive Order 21-05 extends the original order lifting "pause" restrictions to pre-"pause" requirements until February 18, 2021 without any change or modification. The original Order can be viewed here.
- 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 extention order viewed here.
- January 1, 2021 - Governor Raimondo has extended previously signed RI Executive Orders with no change to January 28, 2021. The extension order can be viewed here. Some of the notable Orders being extended include:
- Executive Order #20-19, which declares that employers' unemployment accounts will not be charged as a result of unemployment benefits paid to former employees due to COVID-19.
- Executive Order #20-94, which is the mask order.
- Executive Order #20-104, which, amongst other directives, mandates that except for persons living in congregate care settings, any person (a) who has been in known close contact (within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes within a 24-hour period) with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 or (b) who has been contacted by RIDOH to inform them that they were in such close contact must: (i) self-quarantine for 10 days following that contact or (ii) obtain a negative COVID-19 test on day 5 or later following that contact and self-quarantines until day 7 following that contact.
- December 22, 2020 - If signed into law, a portion of the new coronavirus relief bill labeled the “Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act,” would provide for a second round of PPP and EIDL loans, along with some important modifications to those programs. Read more. In addition, a portion of the new bill labeled the “Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020” would extend the following provisions of the CARES Act through March 14, 2021 and add some additional changes to the programs. Read more.
- December 21, 2020 - Effective today, the new RI Executive Order, lifts the “pause” restrictions to pre-pause requirements in most respects, as follows: (1) a restaurant’s indoor dining capacity is now 50% of an establishment's regular seating capacity; (2) venues of assembly may operate at up to 25% of capacity, subject to Phase III guidelines, to a cap of one hundred and twenty-five (125) people; (3) gyms may resume operations at one (1) person per 150 square feet with individuals remaining fourteen (14) feet apart indoors and six (6) feet apart outdoors, subject to Phase III guidance; and (4) Indoor and outdoor recreational or entertainment businesses and historical/cultural establishments, that are not venues of assembly, may conduct operations at one (1) person per 150 square feet and must require individuals physically exerting themselves to remain fourteen (14) feet apart from individuals outside of their household. The requirement for office employees to work from home when possible and the requirement for restaurants to seat one household per table inside (2 outside) remains in effect. The Order expires January 19, 2021.
- December 21, 2020 - United States Senate and House leaders have reached an agreement on an approximately $900 billion relief bill in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. If passed, this would be the largest relief package since Congress passed the CARES Act in March of this year. The full text of the relief bill has not yet been released; however, many details of the package have been reported by congressional leaders. Read more.
- 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 11, 2020 - The Rhode Island "Pause" order has been extended until December 20th, per Rhode Island Executive Order 20-105. The quarantine order, Rhode Island Executive Order 20-104, was amended to (i) require close contacts to quarantine even absent a call from the RIDOH (prior to this order, you were not required to quarantine for close contact purposes unless or until the RIDOH contacted you to inform you of the quarantine requirement); and (ii) shorten the period of time for close contact to quarantine. Close contact now self-quarantine for 10 days following that contact, unless the person obtains a negative COVID-19 test on day 5 or later following that contact and self quarantines until day 7 or later following that contact. Those living in the a congregate setting must still quarantine for 14 days.
- 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.
- 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 4, 2020 - Rhode Island has announced $100 million in funding will be allocated to support those who are affected by the Rhode Island COVID-19 “Pause” Order (Executive Order 20-100), which runs from November 30 through December 13. $50 million will go directly to local businesses with a maximum of $50,000 to each business. This funding is for those businesses that are closed or severely limited during the “Pause” and the amount of funding awarded will be based upon revenue. Businesses may apply for this funding beginning today via the Division of Taxation’s website at http://www.tax.ri.gov/. Learn more here.
- November 30, 2020 - Executive Order 20-100, was signed by Governor Raimondo and is effective until December 13, 2020. This is the widely talked about "Pause" order, which makes a few additional changes to the prior order. Most significantly, the order continues to ban indoor social gatherings amongst non-household members. Changes to prior order to note:
- Indoor catering is prohibited.
- Gyms and sporting activities are closed.
- Indoor and outdoor assembly venues, as well as indoor recreational and entertainment businesses (concert halls, theaters, fairs, concerts, arcades, etc.) are closed.
- Recreational/entertainment elements within a restaurant/bar or other operation must be closed (e.g., pool tables/arcade games/live music within a restaurant).
- Indoor museums/historical sites are allowed to remain open but are limited to 1 visitor per 100 sq feet and cannot conduct tours or presentations.
- Religious organization activities are reduced to 25% of capacity (capped at 125 people).
- The language regarding work from home has been changed from strongly encouraged to required "when possible", with express allowance for employees' whose duties require an onsite presence to work onsite daily or sporadically.
- Restaurant indoor capacity is reduced to 33% and restaurants must ask patrons if they are all in the same household. A restaurant may seat up to 8 people in two households outside at the same table.
- Bar establishments remain open. No one can sit/use the bar countertop itself in any bar/restaurant.
- November 19, 2020 - A new Rhode Island executive order is signed by Gina Raimondo that is effective until November 29, 2020. Executive Order 20-98 can be viewed here. Four things to note:
- The order limits indoor and outdoor public and private "social gatherings, including holiday gatherings, parties and celebrations" to members of the same household. No further guidance on what is a "social gathering" yet; there are exceptions for weddings.
- Retail establishments must create a plan by November 24th in a form to be released by the DBR to limit the amount of people in stores.
- Slight reduction in capacity percentage, and reduction in overall maximum number of people allowed in assembly areas, convention centers, churches and fairs.
- Working from home is not mandated, but "strongly encouraged" rather than "encouraged".
- 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 5, 2020 - Governor Raimondo signed two new orders increasing restrictions due to more COVID-19 cases in Rhode Island.
- Executive Order 20-94 is the mask order. Employees still do not need to wear a mask where they easily, continuously, and measurably maintain 6 feet of distance in a workplace. Unlike the prior order, the order no longer generally allows masks not to be worn outside the workplace – indoors or outdoors – where 6 ft distance from others can be maintained (retaining exceptions for things like eating and being alone or with family in a car). This order expires December 5, 2020.
- Executive Order 20-95 is the revised Phase III order. This order expires November 22, 2020. Under the order:
ii. Effective Monday, November 9, 2020, competitions, games and scrimmages of high-risk sports, such as wrestling and boxing, are prohibited (except for professional or intercollegiate athletic programs). A list of high-risk sports can be found at: https://reopeningri.com/parks-recreation.
iii. Effective Monday, November 9, 2020, spectators are prohibited from attending sporting events or practices for athletes over the age of eighteen (18). For sporting events or practices with athletes under the age of eighteen (18), no more than (2) parents or guardians of the athlete and the athlete's siblings may be present.
iv. There are also advisories and suggestions with no legal effect (specifically, the stay at home advisory curfew is not mandatory).
- October 30, 2020 - Governor Raimondo issued an Executive Order slightly modifying the Rhode Island Phase 3 order (effective until November 29, 2020). The order: (a) decreases the amount of people in gatherings from 15 to 10; (b) prohibits games, practices and other sports activities in indoor sporting facilities from Monday, November 2 through Sunday, November 8; and (c) prohibits spectators at sporting events except in cases of athletes aged 10 or young (in which case one parent/guardian of each athlete may attend).
- 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.
- 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.
- June 15, 2020 - The Federal Reserve Board has expanded the number and type of governmental entities eligible to utilize the Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF) that was established to help state and local governments manage cash flow pressures caused by the coronavirus. Click here for details.
- June 3, 2020 - The Senate has passed legislation providing more flexibility to recipients of loans under the Paycheck Protection Program. Read more.
- May 14, 2020 - The SBA has extended the deadline to "return" PPP loans to May 18th. Question: An SBA interim final rule posted on May 8, 2020 provided that any borrower who applied for a PPP loan and repays the loan in full by May 14, 2020 will be deemed by SBA to have made the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request in good faith. Is it possible for a borrower to obtain an extension of the May 14, 2020 repayment date? Answer: Yes, SBA is extending the repayment date for this safe harbor to May 18, 2020, to give borrowers an opportunity to review and consider FAQ #46. Borrowers do not need to apply for this extension. This extension will be promptly implemented through a revision to the SBA’s interim final rule providing the safe harbor. View full version of the Paycheck Protection Plan Loans Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
- May 13, 2020 - The SBA revised its frequently asked questions and added question #46 – “How will SBA review borrowers’ required good-faith certification concerning the necessity of their loan request?” SBA Issues Additional Guidance on PPP Loan Certification Requirements PS&H Client Alert published May 13, 2020.
- May 5, 2020 - On April 28, 2020, the U.S. Small Business Administration released a supplemental Interim Final Rule that answered some of the questions being asked by many Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan applicants and stakeholders. New Interim Final Rule Answers Some Questions Concerning the Paycheck Protection Program PS&H Client Alert published May 5, 2020.
- April 30, 2020 - There has been recent attention, both in the media and by the Small Business Administration (SBA), on the good faith certification required by applicants for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. PS&H attorneys David DiSegna and Brian Reilly explain the importance of taking it seriously: What Businesses Should Know About The PPP Good Faith Certification PS&H Client Alert published April 30, 2020.
- April 21, 2020 - The U.S. Senate passed a bill that would amend the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) by providing approximately $480 billion in additional funding to combat COVID-19. For details, read Senate Approves Additional Funding for CARES Act Programs PS&H Client Alert published April 22, 2020.
- April 16, 2020 - With a lapse in appropriations, the SBA is currently unable to accept new applications for the Paycheck Protection Program. For more information and to review other assistance options, click here.
- April 5, 2020 - Understanding the concept of "affiliation" related to the Paycheck Protection Program is critical in determining if your business meets the 500-employee threshold or qualifies under another SBA size standard, to be eligible for a loan. PS&H attorneys Dave Wittmann and Patrick Niebauer explain recent guidance: Guidance Issued On Paycheck Protection Program "Affiliation" Rules PS&H Client Alert published April 5, 2020.
- April 2, 2020 - Calculating your business’s payroll for the purpose of taking advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program within the CARES Act is complicated. PS&H attorney Brian Reilly details specific items to include and to exclude in your calculations: How Do You Calculate Payroll for Your Paycheck Protection Program Loan Application? PS&H COVID-Advisory published April 2, 2020
- March 31, 2020 - The CARES Act benefits nonprofit organizations. PS&H counsel Liz Manchester summarizes highlights of several applicable provisi