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COVID-19 State Regulations in New England

Emily Hartman /

[Updated 9/9/20]

Below is a round-up of COVID-19 state regulations for employers navigating how their business will get back to work. If you believe there may be a discrepancy between a state and local order that affects you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

We’ll keep this updated as much as we can, but double-check with the local governments to ensure you’ve got the latest information.

Connecticut COVID-19 State Regulations

Reopening

Update 9/8/20: Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 9A to renew and extend all Executive Orders issued in March to November 9, 2020, unless an Order specifically provides an expiration date. The Governor’s Office issued a press release summarizing the state’s response to the virus.

Update 9/1/20: Governor Ned Lamont extended the emergency order until February 9, 2021, through the Declaration of Public Health and Civil Preparedness Emergencies.

Update 7/10/20: A new state government resource, the Latest Guidance, has been published to help businesses and residents quickly get updated information and guidance.

Update 7/7/20: Phase 3 is paused due to the increase in COVID-19 cases. Effective July 3, private outdoor gatherings are limited to 100 people and private indoor gatherings are limited to 25 people in person. Bars will continue to stay closed.

Update 6/24/20: Executive Order No. 7ZZ was issued to reopen indoor dining services at restaurants, hotels and other lodgings, the pickup or delivery of alcohol from liquor stores or bars, personal care services, gyms and fitness facilities, public amusement areas, and the extension of essential businesses.

Update 6/15/20: Executive Order No. 7TT was issued to reopen personal care services like barbers and hair salons, allowing indoor gatherings for up to 10 people, indoor spiritual gatherings are limited to 100 people or less and to 150 people or less for outdoor gatherings.

Update 6/8/20: Governor Ned Lamont announced Phase II will begin on June 17, 2020, and will include the following reopenings: libraries, outdoor events, personal care services, fitness centers, gyms, hotels, amusement parks, indoor dining, museums, and recreation centers. Each sector will have specific safety measures they should follow and can be found here.

Update: Executive Order No. 7PP was issued to address Phase I reopening guidelines and camping restrictions. Information for businesses reopening starts on Page 2 and includes guidance like limited outdoor dining for restaurants, retail businesses, and museums. All businesses must meet safety guidelines. The tentative date for Phase II is June 20, 2020.

Governor Ned Lamont announced the formation of the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group to help determine how best to reopen the state. Armed with criteria for to start an initial reopening, Connecticut will enter Phase 1 of its 4-phased reopening plan starting May 20, 2020.

Phase I allows restaurants, offices, hair salons, retail businesses and malls, and museums and zoos to reopen under safety measures. Each industry has its own set of rules and guidelines to follow. For example, offices should continue to promote teleworking and should limit onsite workforce to 50% capacity, social gatherings should be limited to 5 people or less.

Executive Order 7MM provides additional guidelines and eased restrictions for outdoor dining and retail.

The Connecticut Business Reopening and Recovery Center was launched to help businesses with their reopening. Before businesses reopen, they must self-certify that they are following the safety guidelines for employees and customers. There is additional information regarding business assistance and relief, license and permit guidance, and how to do business under COVID-19 restrictions.

A separate task force, led by the Department of Economic and Community Development, will continue to provide additional guidance to small businesses to help them meet requirements.

Additional Resources

Sector Rules and Certification for Reopen

Roadmap for Reopening Connecticut

Connecticut Business Reopening and Recovery Center

Executive Order 7MM

Criteria for Initial Reopening Connecticut

Connecticut Department of Health

Connecticut FAQs

Sector Rules for May 20th Reopening

Face Coverings

Update 8/19/20: Executive Order 7NNN overrides Executive Order 7BB and provides information on how to be exempt from the face mandate by obtaining medical documentation.

Governor Ned Lamont issued Executive Order No. 7BB, which requires all residents to wear cloth face coverings or face masks in public, whenever and wherever close contact is unavoidable, beginning April 20, 2020.

The Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers mandates that employees must wear face masks or cloth face coverings while at work, except when eating or drinking during a break. Employers are responsible for providing masks or cloth face coverings to employees. If employers can’t provide masks or face coverings to employees, they must provide the materials and the CDC tutorial so employees can create their own.

Where employees are in individual offices or cubicles, masks don’t need to be worn, but should be donned when moving around the office.

As Connecticut moves to reopen, additional industry-specific guidance has been issued by the state government to help employers restart their businesses safely. Restaurants, retail businesses, and personal care services, like hair salons and barbershops, require employees to wear a face mask.

Additional Resources

Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers

Connecticut Executive Orders

Sector Rules for May 20th Reopening

Stay-at-Home Order

Who: Connecticut employers and employees

When: Effective Immediately through April 22, 2020, unless modified, extended, or ended. (Update: This date has been extended to May 20, 2020, per Executive Order 7X)

What: Governor Lemont signed an Executive Order No. 7H on March 20, to enforce non-essential businesses or non-profits to close or move to telecommute.

Businesses in the following industries are excluded from this rule:

  • 16 infrastructure divisions, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, including chemicals, commercial facilities, communications, critical manufacturing, dams, defense industrial bases, emergency services, energy, financial services, food and agriculture, government facilities, healthcare and public health, information technology, nuclear reactors, materials, and waste, transportation systems, waste and wastewater systems;
  • Essential health care including hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, elder care, and home health care workers;
  • Institutions involved in the research and development, manufacturing, distribution, warehousing, and supplying pharmaceuticals, biotechnology therapy, health care data, consumer health, medical devices, diagnostics, equipment, services and any other healthcare-related supplies or services;
  • Essential retail, grocery stores, wholesale clubs that provide groceries;
  • Gas stations and convenience stores;
  • Food and beverage retailers (including liquor/package stores and manufacturer permittees), and restaurants provided that they comply with previous and future executive orders;
  • Essential services like trash and recycling collection and mail and shipping;
  • News media, legal and accounting services, banks, insurance services, check cashing services, and other financial institutions;
  • Construction, vendors of essential services and good necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences or other essential businesses, including pest control and landscaping services;
  • Vendors that provide essential services or products, including logistics and technology support, child care, and the provision of goods, services or functions necessary for the safety, welfare, and health of the public;
  • Any other organization that the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development deems essential. The Department is willing to review and grant opinion requests made by businesses.

How:

  • Review your business to determine if it meets an essential function. Seek out legal counsel or request an opinion from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development if you need guidance.
  • Determine how to move your organization to 100% telecommuting. Plan and implement the telecommuting policy and communicate it to your employees.

Additional Resources

Executive Order 7X

Business Exemptions for Executive Order 7H

Non-Essential Business FAQs

Connecticut State Guidance on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Resources

Executive Order 7J

Department of Labor Releases COVID-19 Guidance

Who: Connecticut employers

When: Effective Immediately

What: The Connecticut Department of Labor published a COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for employers and their workers. A summary of the important information includes:

Unemployment

  • Employees discharged from their jobs or who take unpaid time off from work because they have tested positive for COVID-19, may be able to claim unemployment benefits, as long as they meet all the requirements. Determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis.
  • Employees who aren’t sick but their employer required them to self-quarantine without pay, and employees who are temporarily laid off or furloughed may be able to collect unemployment benefits as long as they are able to work and look for work. Determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis.
  • Employees who take unpaid time off to care for an ill family member may apply for unemployment benefits, provided they are able to work and look for work. Determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis.
  • Employers are encouraged to take part in the SharedWork program to reduce full-time employees’ hours up to 60% while employees collect partial unemployment. The program is available to any employer with 2+ employees, the work reduction is between 10-60%, and isn’t the result of seasonal changes based on the employer’s business.
  • Employers may offer paid leave to employees who are asked to stay home.

Paid Sick Leave and Family Medical Leave

  • Per Connecticut’s Paid Sick Leave law, employers with 50+ workers must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year to service workers.
  • Employees are also able to use unpaid leave through the Family Medical Leave Act, which covers businesses with 50+ employees in a 75-mile radius and or the Connecticut Family Medical Leave Act, which covers employers with 75+ employees in the state. If a family member of an employee who may have or has tested positive for COVID-19, the employee can use protected FMLA, this wouldn’t be the case if the family member doesn’t show symptoms of COVID-19. Employers may request medical certification from the employee or the family member’s healthcare provider.

Wage and Hour

  • Exempt employees must continue to meet certain work duties and receive their salary, typically regardless of the number of hours worked in a week, as long as some work was performed.
  • Non-exempt employees are only paid for the time they work.
  • For example, if an employer shuts down the business for a day and tells employees not to work, it isn’t required to pay non-exempt employees. In this same scenario, if an exempt employee worked any part of the week of the closure, then they should be paid for the full workweek. Employers can’t make any deductions from exempt employees’ pay or time off benefits; Connecticut law protects employees when there isn’t any work because of the employer’s operating requirements.

How:

  • Continue to monitor federal and Connecticut regulations and review your pay and leave practices to ensure they’re compliant.
  • Consult with legal counsel to review changes you make to your practices to ensure they’re compliant.

Additional Resources

Connecticut Department of Labor FAQs

Maine COVID-19 State Regulations

Reopening: Restarting Maine’s Economy

9/2/20: The Governor issued a Proclamation to Renew the State of Civil Emergency, extending the state of emergency to October 2, 2020.

Update 6/8/20: The Keeping Maine Healthy Website has been released to help guide and protect the residents of Maine and out-of-state visitors. There are 3 parts to keeping Maine healthy including testing as an alternative to quarantining, symptom checks, and local public health efforts to prevent COVID-19. Keep It Maine, an awareness campaign about best prevention practices, has been released to help with prevention efforts.

Update 6/1/20: Executive Order 55-FY was issued to begin Phase II of the state’s reopening plan by taking actions like increasing gatherings from 10 people to 50 people, encouraging telework, and allowing for the gradual reopening of non-essential businesses. Be sure to review the Executive Order for further detail. Restarting Maine’s Economy Plan was also updated.

Governor Janet Mills issued a Safer-At-Home order starting on May 1, 2020 and going through at least May 31, 2020.  Under Phase I of the order, restrictions will start to ease on residents and businesses, like barbers, personal and health care services, and auto dealerships. Businesses that open must follow the COVID-19 Prevention Checklists.

Maine’s reopening plan, Restarting Maine’s Economy, consists of 4 phases from May to July/August. While each phase is planned to progress month-to-month, each phase will be assessed coordination with Maine’s CDC approval before the state can move onto the next phase.

Residents must wear cloth face coverings and employers must ensure that cloth face coverings are worn by employees. See page 6 of Restarting Maine’s Economy plan.

Additional Resources

Executive Order 49

Restarting Maine’s Economy Plan

Restarting Maine’s Economy

Maine’s COVID-19 Prevention Checklists

Maine Department of Health and Human Services

Face Covering Mandate

Under Executive Order 49 FY, Mainers are required to wear face coverings in public settings, except under certain circumstances.

Executive Order 55 FY was issued to require businesses to post signs for customers to wear face coverings and give them the ability to deny service to those customers that aren’t exempt from the face covering requirement.

Executive Order 2 FY 20/21 was issued, and effective July 8, 2020, to mandate face coverings for all retail locations with more than 50, 000 square feet, including bars, lodging, restaurants in the following Counties of Cumberland, Hancock, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Waldo, and York, or in the Municipalities of Auburn, Augusta, Bangor, Brewer, and Lewiston.

Stay-At-Home Order

Who: Maine businesses and employees

When: April 2, 2020 to April 30, 2020

What: Governor Janet Mills published an Executive Order mandating all state residents to stay home unless for an essential activity, like getting supplies and outdoor exercise, or for an essential job, like automobile repair, construction, or manufacturing. The full list of essential and non-essential businesses can be found here and the full list of essential activities can be found on page 2 of the Order.

Essential businesses that remain open must lower their occupancy numbers for customers in their locations, use curbside pickup and delivery options, and ensure that they are meeting the CDC’s social and physical distancing requirements for customers and employees. Retail stores are given the following guidance for occupancy limits:

  • Less than 7,500 square feet, no more than 5 customers at a time.
  • 7,500 – 25,000 square feet, no more than 15 customers at a time.
  • 25,000 – 50,000 square feet, no more than 50 customers at a time.
  • 50,000 – 75,000 square feet, no more than 75 customers at a time.
  • More than 75,000 square feet, no more than 100 customers at a time.

Please see page 4 of the Executive Order for further guidance about retail and essential workplaces.

Another Executive Order directed people traveling into Maine, whether resident or non-resident, to self-quarantine for 14 days to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19.  The order also instructs anyone showing signs of the disease to not travel to Maine.

How:

  • Determine if your business is considered essential or non-essential.
  • Assess whether you can send employees home to telework.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • There may be potential discrepancies between state and local orders. If you believe there may be a discrepancy affecting you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Additional Resources

Executive Order 34 FY 19/20

Executive Order 28 FY 19/20

Essential Business Operations Definitions

State of Maine Preparing for and Responding to COVID-19

Massachusetts COVID-19 State Regulations

Reopening

Although Governor Charlie Baker announced a 4-phased plan to reopen the state, the Economic Reopening Advisory Board will be publishing reopening plans by May 18, 2020, when the state’s Stay-At-Home order ends.

Each phase will gradually allow limited industries to resume operations under varying levels of restrictions. 

For employers that reopen, there are mandatory safety standards for workplaces.

Update 7/7/20: Effective July 6, 2020, the state moved to Phase 3 of reopening, except for Boston which will start on July 13, 2020. Under Phase 3, the following businesses that may begin to reopen under social distancing and safety requirements are museums, fitness centers, movie theaters, outdoor venue performances, professional sports teams without spectators, and some indoor activities with low potential contact.

Update 6/24/20: The state will be entering step two of Phase II of reopening starting on June 22, 2020, allowing for things like indoor dining service and workplace offices opening to 50% capacity. Additional industry-specific guidance can be found here.

Update 6/4/20: COVID-19 Order No. 35 was issued to clarify business reopenings and allowing certain reopening activities for Phase II businesses. Beginning June 1, 2020, businesses that are designated as a Phase II workplace and meet health and safety conditions may begin to reopen. The Order outlines the industries that may qualify for reopening, starting on page 3. There is additional guidance for amateur outdoor sports and outdoor dining for restaurants.

Update 5/18/20: Executive Order No. 33 was issued to detail the reopening guidelines for businesses, provided they adhere to safety requirements:

  • Starting May 18, 2020, businesses like manufacturing, construction, and gun ranges may begin to reopen as long as they adhere to safety requirements.
  • Starting May 25, 2020, businesses with office spaces, personal and pet care services, car washes, and laboratories may begin to reopen.

The government also issued Guidance for Industries on the Reopening Plan to clarify safety requirements for specific industries like construction, banking, and real estate. Sector Specific Protocols and Best Practices was also published as a business resource.

The Reopening Massachusetts Plan can be found here.

Additional Resources

Four Phased Approach to Reopening Massachusetts

Reopening: Mandatory Safety Standards for Workplaces

Baker-Polito Administration Announces four Phase Approach to Reopening and Publishes Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards

Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Face Coverings Mandated

Beginning May 6, 2020, state residents must wear a cloth face-covering in public, on public transportation, and ride-sharing.

All customers and employees that are open to the public must wear a mask or face covering.

Local jurisdictions may have other requirements that should be adhered to.

Additional Resources

COVID-19 Order No. 31

Wear A Mask in Public

Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Orders and Guidance

Shutdown Order

Who: Massachusetts employers and employees

When: March 24, 2020 through April 7, 2020 (Extended to May 18, 2020, under COVID-19 Order No. 30)

What:

Governor Charlie Baker issued an Emergency Order to that requires all non-essential businesses to shut their physical facilities to employees and customers. Gatherings of more than 10 people are also prohibited.

Businesses that are classified as COVID-19 Essential, may remain open:

  • Healthcare, public health, and human services
  • Law enforcement, public safety, and emergency responders
  • Food, retail and agriculture like convenience stores, pet supply stores, gas stations, carry out restaurants and bars, farming facilities
  • Critical infrastructures like electricity, petroleum, gas, steam energy, water and wastewater, information technology, communications, transportation, and logistics
  • Community-based functions and government operations like building access for security and maintaining building function, educators, hotel employees, construction workers who support the building, operation, inspection and maintenance of sites and projects, professional services
  • Critical manufacturing for materials and products needed for medical supply chains
  • Hazardous materials including nuclear, medical waste, response, cleanup
  • Financial institutions
  • Chemical industry
  • Defense industry

Businesses who don’t fall into these categories may request an “Essential Service Designation Request.”

How:

Determine whether your business is considered essential. Assess your current workforce for who may be able to work remotely or is essential to be onsite, bearing in mind the ban on groups of 25 or more people.

Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.

Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.

Additional Resources

COVID-19 Essential Services

COVID-19 Guidance and Directives

COVID-19 Order No. 13

Unemployment & Sick Leave Provisions

Who: Massachusetts employers and employees

When: March 17, 2020 through April 6, 2020 (Updated to May 4, 2020, please see the COVID-19 Order No. 21)

What:

Massachusetts has expanded unemployment provisions to make benefits more accessible:

If an employee is quarantined and leaves their job due to reasonable risk of exposure to COVID-19, or to care for a family member, and doesn’t intend to work or return to work, they qualify for unemployment benefits.

New claims will be paid faster, temporarily eliminating the one-week waiting period for benefits.

Workers may collect unemployment if their employer has shut down and expects to reopen in 4 weeks or fewer.

Additionally, the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) has enacted emergency regulations to help support workers impacted by COVID-19:

Creation of a “standby” category for people who are temporarily unemployed because of a lack of work that resulted from COVID-19. These individuals have an expected return-to-work date.

Individuals on standby must take measures to remain in contact with their employers during the shutdown and be available for any work their employer may have.

Employers will be responsible for verifying the return-to-work date with the DUA. If they fail to do so, the person’s standby status will be set for 4 weeks. A max of 8 weeks may be set by the employer.

Employers experiencing a significant impact on their business due to COVID-19, may request an extension of up to 60 days to file reports, pay contributions, or make certain payments.

DUA will excuse missed filing deadlines due to the effect of COVID-19 if the employer can demonstrate the impact.

Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law also now accommodates employees who have been required to stay home because they or their family member has been exposed to COVID-19. Employers must allow employees to use earned sick time in these situations and to allow for liberal use of sick time or other paid time off if an employee isn’t comfortable carrying out a work assignment because of COVID-19. If an employee is facing a temporary layoff or partial unemployment because of reduced hours, they aren’t required to use their sick time before applying for unemployment.

How:

When you’ve developed a plan to respond to the new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.

Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.

As necessary, be sure to review your unemployment practices and assess how you may need to incorporate some of the new guidance provided by the DUA.

Communicate with your employees about the use of earned sick time and some of the additional support being provided during COVID-19.

Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.

Additional Resources

COVID-19 Order No. 21

Massachusetts FAQs About COVID-19: Employee Rights and Employer Obligations

New Hampshire COVID-19 State Regulations

Reopening Task Force

Update 8/28/20: Executive Order 2020-17 was issued to extend the state of emergency for 21 days.

Update 6/26/20: Executive Order #52 was issued to replace the prior Stay at Home Order and is effective until August 1, 2020. All businesses should comply with the Universal Business Guidelines and industry-specific guidance issued by the state. Lessened restrictions for individuals can be read through on page 6 of the Order.

Update: Emergency Order #49 extends the stay home order, including the closure of non-essential businesses, through June 15, 2020.

Although the state’s Stay-At-Home Order was extended to May 31, 2020 (see Executive Order 2020 #40), Governor Chris Sununu announced the formation of a Reopening Task Force to identify the proper strategies and models for reopening.

Exhibit C of Executive Order 2020 #40 provides operational guidance to businesses. Stay At Home 2.0 provides modified guidance for certain industries. On May 1, 2020, manufacturing, state parks, and campgrounds may begin reopening. Starting May 11, 2020, retail stores, drive-in movie theaters, golf courses, barber shops, and hair salons may begin to phase in or expand services. Beginning May 18, 2020, restaurants may begin to reopen.

The Universal Guidance under the Stay At Home 2.0 order states that all employees should wear a cloth face covering when at work and in proximity to other people. Employers should promote the use of cloth face coverings. Businesses in certain industries, like personal care, retail stores, and golf courses, are required to have employees use face coverings.

Additional Resources

Emergency Order #49

Emergency Order #40

EXHIBIT C to Emergency Order #40

Stay At Home 2.0 Universal Guidance

Business Guidance

New Hampshire Executive Orders

Face Covering Mandate

Emergency Order #63 was issued on August 11, 2020, effective immediately, requiring residents wear a face covering when in all gatherings of 100 or more. Page 2 of the Emergency Order #63 lists exemptions to the rule.

Rhode Island COVID-19 State Regulations

Reopening

Beginning May 1, 2020, the state will begin a 3-phased and beyond approach to reopening, starting with opening parks and beaches, and allowing gatherings of 10 people or less. During this time social distancing, face coverings, and sanitation requirements must be maintained. For businesses, retail stores can start in-store pick ups for preordered items. Offices should keep encouraging teleworking but can start to allow some employees back onsite. See pages 5-6 of the Reopening RI: Charting the Course for details about Phase I. Update: Executive Order 20-32 was issued to allow retail businesses to reopen for pickups and limited in-store transactions. Capacity is limited to 1 customer for every 300 square feet of shopping space. Restaurants may begin outdoor dining.

Update 9/8/20: Executive Order 2020-73 was issued to extend the early closures of bars from September 7, 2020, to October 7, 2020.

Update 9/1/20: Executive Order 20-67 was issued to extend the state’s Phase III reopening (previously Executive Order 20-50) from August 29, 2020 to September 28, 2020. Note that previous guidance regarding indoor and outdoor gathering limits and more are still in effect. The state released Phase III Revised: Picking Up Speed to help outline the effective changes.

Update 8/7/20: On August 5, 2020, bars must close at 11:00 pm starting on August 7, 2020. Indoor and outdoor gatherings are limited to 15 people and quarantine restrictions remain for residents that travel from international or domestic destinations. Be sure to read Executive Order 20-58 for additional guidance on restaurant gatherings, events, and businesses that may have up to 66% of their workforce on-site provided they meet social distancing and safety requirements.

Update 6/29/20: Executive Order 20-50 was issued to move the state to Phase III of reopening. Under the Order restrictions include limiting indoor gatherings to less than 25 people and outdoor gatherings to 50 people. Religious services may be held at 66% of total capacity.

Update 6/1/20: Executive Order 20-40 was issued limiting social gatherings of more than 15 people and beginning the limited reopening of office-based businesses under social distancing and hygiene restrictions, expanding the opening of non-critical retail businesses, and indoor and outdoor dining, personal care services, and more. The governor announced the beginning of phase II on June 1, 2020. An overview of the Phase II reopening plan has been released as has Phase II General Business/Organization Guidance.

Moving between phases will require 14 days of stable or declining hospitalizations and decrease in COVID-19 case numbers.

Additional Resources

Reopening Rhode Island Plan

Reopening Rhode Island

Rhode Island Executive Orders

Cloth Face Coverings Required for Employees

When: April 18, 2020 through at least May 18, 2020 (Update 6/5/20: Executive Order 2020-41 has been issued to extend the face covering mandate to July 4, 2020.

Executive Order 20-24 mandates that employees who work in customer-facing roles, in an office-setting must, or as determined by the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation, must wear a cloth face covering. The exception is if the employees can easily maintain at least 6 feet of distance from coworkers and customers.

Businesses must provide face coverings or the materials to make cloth face coverings to their employees. Employees may make their own face masks as well.

Additional Resources

CDC Face Mask Guidance

Rhode Island Department of Health

Rhode Island Executive Orders

Stay-At-Home Order

Who: Rhode Island employers and employees

When: March 28, 2020 through April 13, 2020 (amended to May 8, 2020, please see the new Executive Order)

What: Governor Gina Raimondo issued an Executive Order that requires residents to stay in their homes unless to travel to work, for medical treatment, or to obtain necessities such as food, medicine, or gas. Gatherings of more than five people in any private or public space are prohibited.

The Order also requires that Rhode Island employers use all available means to enable employees who work in other states to work from home. Residents who work in another state and can work from home are required to do so. Persons who must travel to work in another state are required to self-quarantine when not at work. Anyone traveling to Rhode Island for non-work purposes must self-quarantine for 14 days. Exceptions for the foregoing provisions are made for public health, public safety, and healthcare workers.

Effective March 30, 2020, all non-critical retail businesses must cease in-person operations. Critical businesses are defined as:

  • Food and beverage stores, including food banks and pantries, convenience stores, liquor stores, and farmers’ markets);
  • Restaurants, but only for pickup, drive-through, and delivery;
  • Pharmacies and medical supply stores;
  • Compassion centers;
  • Pet supply stores;
  • Printing shops;
  • Mail and delivery stores and operations;
  • Gas stations;
  • Laundromats;
  • Electronic and telecommunications stores;
  • Office supply stores;
  • Industrial and agricultural/seafood equipment and supply stores;
  • Hardware stores;
  • Funeral homes;
  • Auto repair and supply stores;
  • Banks and credit unions;
  • Firearms stores;
  • Uniform stores serving healthcare and public safety; and
  • Others as identified by the Department of Business Regulation.

How:

  • Determine which employees are able to work from home and which must stay onsite.
  • Have a plan in place that outlines best practices for your onsite employees (sanitization, social distancing, etc.) and widely distribute it.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to the new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.
  • There may be potential discrepancies between state and local orders. If you believe there may be a discrepancy affecting you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Additional Resources

Executive Order 20-14

Executive Order 20-13

Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation

10 Tips for At-Home Quarantine

Rhode Island Department of Health

Unemployment Rules Updated

Who: Rhode Island employers and employees

When: Effective March 25, 2020

What: For employees affected by business closures caused as a result of COVID-19, Governor Gina Raimondo and the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (RIDLT) have changed the rules for obtaining unemployment benefits as follows:

  • Waiver of the seven-day waiting period to file an unemployment insurance claim related to COVID-19;
  • Waiver of the seven-day minimum amount of time that claimants must be out of work to qualify for Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) or Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) benefits for COVID-19 related claims; and
  • Waiver of the required medical certification for individuals under quarantine; instead, individuals may temporarily qualify via self-attestation that they were under quarantine due to COVID-19.

Employees who are sick with COVID-19 may be eligible for TDI benefits. Employees who are absent from work to care for a child due to school or daycare closings may be eligible for TCI benefits. All applicants should apply for benefits immediately online. The RIDLT will evaluate claims as quickly as possible and work with employees to determine their eligibility for different unemployment benefits.

Business owners who have temporarily ceased or limited operations due to COVID-19 may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance, Paid Sick and Safe Leave, or other programs. Business owners who face slowdowns due to COVID-19 may be able to participate in the WorkShare program, which partially replaces workers’ wages with unemployment benefits as an alternative to layoffs. Employers who participate in this program are subject to certain restrictions, such as continuing to provide the same fringe benefits to participating employees or reducing all employees’ benefits by the same amount.

How:

  • Advise current and laid-off employees of their potential COVID-19–related unemployment benefits through RIDLT.
  • Employers that temporarily close or limit your operations due to COVID-19 may request assistance by emailing dlt.covid19@dlt.ri.gov or calling (401) 462-2020.
  • Employers facing slowdowns due to COVID-19 may apply for Rhode Island’s WorkShare program.

Additional Resources

COVID 19 Workplace Fact Sheet

Rhode Island Unemployment Insurance Program

Rhode Island WorkShare Program

Vermont COVID-19 State Regulations

Reopening

Update 6/24/20: The Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) updated guidance regarding employer health checks, the reopening of outdoor sporting events with up to 150 people (starting June 26, 2020), increasing occupancy for lodging/camping operators, indoor dining, and religious services up to 50% capacity.

Update 6/16/20: Addendum 16 to Executive Order 01-20 increases social gatherings up to 25 people (businesses should refer to ACCD guidance)

Update 6/5/20: See Vermont’s Executive Order page for several addendums to Executive Order 01-20. The most recent, Addendum 16, increases social gatherings to up to 25 people, where limits haven’t already been set for organizations, like businesses and places of worship; Addendum 17, modifies self-isolation and self-quarantine for travels in addition to permitting regulations for restaurants, bars, and catering services and authorizing municipalities to enact stricter requirements on those businesses as necessary. Addendum 17 takes effect June 8, 2020.

Update: Addendum 14 to Executive Order 01-20 was issued to extend the state of emergency through June 15, 2020 and to allow limited reopening for lodging businesses. Additional guidance and resources for all businesses have been published:

  • All businesses that have been closed for 7+ days during the state of emergency must complete and keep a reopening and training plan. Vermont OSHA and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development released an online training.
  • Businesses with fewer than 10 employees at any physical location are not required to do this but they must follow all other guidelines and employees are required to take the Vermont OSHA training.

In Addendum 10 to Executive Order 01-20, Governor Phil Scott announced new health and safety requirements to help get state residents back to work. Although the state’s Stay Home, Stay Safe Order is active until May 15, 2020, starting on April 20, 2020, as long as outdoor, construction, and realty businesses can meet safety requirements from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (found here), they can begin to open. Crews should be no more than 2 people per job or location. Supporting operations can be conducted through curbside, pickup, and delivery services.

Cloth face coverings and masks are encouraged to be worn in public. Non-medical cloth face coverings are required for employees.

Additional Resources

Addendum 10 to Executive Order 01-20

Update on New Work Safe Additions to the Stay Home, Stay Safe Order

Vermont Department of Health for Businesses and EmployeesVermont Executive Orders

Stay-At-Home Order

Who: Vermont employers and employees

When: March 25, 2020 through April 15, 2020 (Updated to May 15, 2020, per Executive Order 01-20)

What:

Governor Philip Scott issued an Executive Order, dubbed the Stay Home, Stay Safe order. It requires residents to stay in their places of residence except for essential reasons. Those reasons are for personal safety; to obtain groceries, medicine, meals, or beverages; to exercise or receive medical care; to care for others; and to go to work (as set forth under the rules of the Order). Employees must work remotely when possible.

Except as previously ordered, and except for entities that provide services or functions deemed critical to public health and safety or economic and national security, all businesses and not-for-profit entities must suspend in-person business operations. All businesses, governmental entities, and not-for-profit entities that remain open must develop procedures and practices to ensure social distancing to the extent possible. These practices include maintaining six feet between persons; practicing regular, thorough handwashing and other hygiene; requiring sick employees to stay at home, and regularly cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces and objects.

Critical services or functions include:

  • Health care operations and related services;
  • Law enforcement, public safety, and first responders;
  • Critical infrastructure, such as utilities, drinking water maintenance, trash collection, and transportation;
  • Construction necessary to support the COVID-19 response and maintain critical infrastructure;
  • Critical manufacturing, including food and pharmaceuticals;
  • Retail establishments serving basic human needs, such as food and essential supplies;
  • Fuel supply;
  • Hardware stores;
  • Transportation and agricultural parts, repair, and maintenance;
  • Trash collection and disposal;
  • Agriculture, farms, and veterinary services;
  • Lodging, in support of the COVID-19 response;
  • Mail and shipping services;
  • News media;
  • Banks and financial institutions;
  • Provision of services to financially disadvantaged persons;
  • Essential state and local government functions; and
  • Others as deemed necessary to support the COVID-19 response.

Critical products and services must be ordered or conducted online or by phone whenever possible. They must be delivered online, delivered to the purchaser, or picked up curbside whenever possible.

Vermont has developed an online inquiry form that allows you to request assistance in determining if your business is defined as critical.

How:

  • Determine if your business is defined as critical and thus may continue to conduct in-person operations. Request guidance as needed.
  • Develop business strategies that allow your business to provide products and services via internet, phone, or curb-side pick-up and delivery.
  • Develop procedures for maintaining social distancing, proper hygiene, and disinfected surfaces and objects.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to the new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.
  • There may be potential discrepancies between state and local orders. If you believe there may be a discrepancy affecting you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Additional Resources

Addendum 6 to Executive Order 01-20

COVID-19 Guidance for Vermont Businesses

Stay Home Stay Safe FAQs for Businesses

Stay Home Stay Safe Sector Specific Guidance

Vermont Department of Health Coronavirus Information

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