March 30 Update to RINLA Members re COVID-19

(Written on March 29, 2020 – information changes daily and we will continue to update you as orders are changed)

Dear RINLA Members,

RINLA would like to thank our members who have reached out with questions concerning the Executive Order issued on Saturday March 28: The Governor and the RI Department of Health have issued a stay-at-home order until April 13. You can read the order here: http://governor.ri.gov/documents/orders/Executive-Order-20-13.pdf

This means that all Rhode Islanders should stay home unless getting food, medicine, gas, or going to work. Also in place is a ban on groups of 5 or more people from gathering.

Under this Executive Order retail business were broken into two categories: “critical” and “non-critical.” A full list of critical and non-critical businesses can be found by following this link: https://dbr.ri.gov/documents/DBR_Critical_retail_businesses_list_032820.pdf

What this means for your business:

A. Garden centers, retail nurseries, greenhouses:
The Dept. of Business Regulation lists “lawn and garden supply stores” (i.e. garden centers, retail nurseries, greenhouses, etc.) and “florists” as non-critical and you must close the “in store” retail portion of your business on Monday, March 30, but you may continue the following operations:

  1. You can still accept deliveries of your orders and care for your plants
  2. For commercial customers, you may open to them by appointment only;
  3. You may “receive and ship orders made by phone or online.” This means other retail customers must ORDER AND PAY AHEAD by credit card; they may then pick up their order curb-side at your business. You may also make deliveries.Just as for your commercial customers, you should make an appointment for each customer to pick up their order to minimize the number of people arriving at your business at any one time.
  4. Observe the ban on 5 or more people from gathering and adhere to social distancing of 6 feet or more; use of hand sanitizers and other measures should be taken to adhere to the public health guidelines.
  5. The non-retail components of your business may continue to operate in accordance with social distancing requirements and other stated guidance (e.g., teleworking encouraged) and restrictions.
  6. We encourage you to print this email and Director Coit’s letter (below) available to show if questioned about curbside pickup or delivery services
  7. Greet / screen your employees each day to ensure they are not coming to work sick
  8. All sick employees must stay home

B. Wholesale operations like farming, fishing and aquaculture are included on the list of “critical” retail businesses.

  1. These operations are considered critical and may continue to operate (e.g., nurseries, sod, food production, farmers markets, etc.).
  2. See information below about distribution to other states
  3. All social distancing and sanitary requirements must be in place


C. “Industrial, construction, agricultural/seafood equipment and supply stores, hardware stores, general power equipment” are included on the list of “critical” retail businesses.

  1. These retail operations may continue to operate in accordance with public health guidelines and restrictions.
  2. Among the restrictions for critical retail businesses, the occupancy of the building can never exceed 20 percent of the stated fire safety capacity and all other applicable social distancing requirements must be observed

D. Landscape and Arborist Businesses:
As of March 28, landscape and arborist companies can continue to do business with the following guidelines:

  1. If you are sending out crews you are reminded about the practice of social distancing of 6-foot separation. During transport to a site you will need to keep this in mind (i.e. fewer individuals together in trucks)
  2. Direct tasks to minimize interaction between crew members while working on a site and maintain social distancing of 6-foot separation; minimize interaction between employees and clients and observe social distancing
  3. Implement all sanitary requirements – including use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer and cleaning of tools between job sites.
  4. Greet / screen your employees each day to ensure they are not coming to work sick
  5. All sick employees must stay home

E. Working outside Rhode Island:
RINLA understands that many of our member companies perform work in other states. The Governor has stated that if your employees need to commute to other states when your employees come home they must self-isolate (employees can only go to work and back home).

  1. Employers must make every attempt to let employees who either work in another state or are residents of another state work from home.
  2. Per the Executive Order: “Any person who lives in Rhode Island and works in another state who can work from home is required to do so. To the extent such a person cannot perform his or her functions via telework or other work from home arrangements, that person shall self-quarantine when not at work.”
  3. Please remember that companies working in other states must abide by each state’s executive orders. RINLA recommends that you carry these executive orders in your trucks so that you can demonstrate that you are an “essential” service.
  4. For Connecticut see link here: https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/Office-of-the-Governor/Executive-Orders/Lamont-Executive-Orders/Executive-Order-No-7H.pdf
  5. For Massachusetts see links here for Executive Order:
    https://www.mass.gov/doc/march-23-2020-essential-services-and-revised-gatherings-order and List of Businesses: https://www.mass.gov/doc/covid-19-essential-services/download

To all RINLA members:

We encourage you to listen to Governor Raimondo’s daily press conferences – we find these advisory sessions to be extremely helpful in guiding Rhode Islanders in how to prepare and what we might expect for the following day and the days ahead. The Governor has assured the community that she is doing everything possible to keep as much commerce operational while also keeping Rhode Islanders safe.

As a community we will survive this unprecedented challenge by staying strong and united as we keep our family, employees and community’s health and well-being a priority.

Please feel free to continue to contact Executive Director Shannon Brawley by emailing at executivedirector@rinla.org or calling cell: 530-867-1198.

Letter to RINLA members from Director Janet Coit, RI Department of Environmental Management:

To Whom it May Concern,

A lot of questions have been raised regarding the Governor’s Executive Order 20-13 (EO) issued on March 28, 2020. DEM is providing the guidance below, which we hope will address some of the issues around this EO. (See above links for Executive Order and Description of Critical vs. Non-Critical)

The recent Executive Order’s restrictions on non-critical businesses is not a declaration that only “essential” businesses operate in RI. Paragraph 4, which details the new approach to “Certain Retail Business Closures” for non-critical businesses applies ONLY to retail businesses. Thus, wholesale operations and food production — farming, fishing, aquaculture — and other non-retail operations are not covered by EO 20-13.

Retail Operation Rules under EO 20-13

If your retail business is defined as critical, it may continue to operate in accordance with public health guidelines and restrictions. Among the restrictions for critical retail businesses, the occupancy of the building can never exceed 20 percent of the stated fire safety capacity and all other applicable social distancing requirements must be observed.

If your retail business is not critical, then the “in store” retail portion of the business must shut down effective Monday, March 30th. Any other non-retail component of your business may continue to operate in accordance with social distancing requirements and other stated guidance (e.g., teleworking encouraged) and restrictions.

Food and Agriculture Businesses

Relating to food and agriculture, the EO makes clear that food access and distribution businesses are considered critical and may continue to operate (e.g., farmers markets), as well as retail operations that are “agricultural/seafood equipment and supply stores.”

Please note that “lawn and garden supply stores” are considered non-critical and must shut down retail operations on Monday, except under these conditions: 1) For commercial customers only, you may open to them by appointment; 2) For all customers, you may allow orders to be placed ahead for curb-side pickup and/or make deliveries. Again, social distancing, use of hand sanitizers, and other measures should be taken to adhere to the public health guidance.

Veterinarians and animal care facilities

Veterinary Clinics may be maintained and business may be conducted that is considered emergency or essential to animal care and disease prevention. In doing so the business shall observe the requirements of not allowing occupancy to exceed 20 percent of stated fire safety capacity and observe all other applicable social distancing requirements. If possible, arrangements should be made to prevent people (animal owners) from entering the clinic.

Animal feed and pet supply retail operations are critical retail businesses and may operate with restrictions in place. If a pet store is open selling supplies, they may also sell their current animal inventory but not take in any new animal inventory. The care of animals within all pet stores is essential and part of conducting necessary business and must be carried out with the requisite social distancing and maximum capacity rules in place.

Boarding kennels, municipal pounds, animal shelters and rescues may conduct business provided all social distancing and maximum capacity rules are enforced. Animal shelters and rescues should focus on placing the existing animals in their care and not intake any other animals unless that intake is considered an emergency.

Dog groomers and trainers may also continue to provide those services, with appropriate restrictions in place that limit contact and ensure social distancing consistent with the public health guidance.

Janet Coit, Director
RI Department of Environmental Management

Additional information and resources:

Rhode Island Department of Health:

  • Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a virus strain that has spread in people since December 2019.
    For information on Rhode Island specific COVID-19 numbers, see RIDOH’s COVID-19 Disease Data webpage.
    For general questions, email RIDOH at:
    COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov, or call (401) 222-8022

The R.I. Department of Labor and Training and R.I. Department of Health have COVID-19 preparedness and response measures to support employers, employees, and nursing homes throughout the Ocean State.

The DLT has filed an emergency regulation, which expands access to Unemployment Insurance and Temporary Disability Insurance/Temporary Caregiver Insurance programs to serve Rhode Islanders impacted by COVID-19. The emergency regulations will:

  • Waive the seven-day waiting period for regular unemployment insurance claims and claims filed under the short-term compensation program (WorkShare).
  • Waive the seven-day minimum amount of time that claimants must be out of work to qualify for TDI/TCI benefits.
  • Waive the required medical certification for individuals under quarantine (and allow them, instead, to temporarily qualify via self-attestation that they were under quarantine as a result of COVID-19).

Disability & Unemployment Insurance

  • For questions on temporary disability insurance (TDI), unemployment insurance (UI), and other benefits, review the COVID-19 Workplace Fact Sheet (ly/2UqkzYA). Requests for assistance can also be made by emailing dlt.covid19@dlt.ri.govor calling (401) 462-2020.
  • Under the new CoVid-19 stimulus package if an owner or subcontractor can no longer do business they can apply for unemployment insurance.

Rhode Island Commerce Corp.:

  • Provides information for businesses and a list of frequently asked questions about operating a business during the disaster. They also offer a flier in Spanish: PDF

Website: commerceri.com/covid-19/
Call the COVID-19 Info Line: (401) 521-HELP [4357]
Email: info@commerceri.com

U.S. Department of Labor:

  • Offers a guide with information about how a COVID-19 outbreak affects the workplace, steps employers can take to reduce risk of exposure, and what to do to protect workers, and more: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf

SBA Disaster Loan Assistance:

  • The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Rhode Island small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
  • Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.govfor more information on SBA disaster assistance.
  • Rhode Island Commerce has set up a small business hotline to answer questions regarding SBA loans and access to capital; call the Small Business Hotline during business hours at (401) 521-HELP or e-mail info@commerceri.com.

R.I. Society of Certified Public Accountants

Technology Assistance for Rhode Island Companies


National Association of Landscape Professionals:




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