Rhode Island: COVID-19 Updates

Executive Order Closing Non-Critical Retail Businesses

Update: Governor Raimondo announced that the stay-at-home order would be lifted on May 9. Self storage is allowed to remain open but must maintain the following guidelines:

Executive Order 20-24 requires all employees of customer/client-facing businesses and nonprofit organizations, office-based businesses and non-profit organizations, and any other such business categories that are still in operation to wear cloth face coverings unless an employee can easily, continuously, and measurably maintain at least six feet of distance from other employees for the duration of his or her work or unless doing so would damage the employee’s health. All such employees must wear face coverings in any entry, exit, and common areas of the business, including, but not limited to: check-in, registration, reception, hallways, bathrooms, breakrooms, time clock areas, elevators, stairways, etc.

All such businesses must provide, at their expense, face coverings or materials for the making of such face coverings for their employees. Such coverings or materials may be made available staff-wide or individually upon employee request so long as the result is organization-wide use of face coverings. Nothing shall prevent an employee from fashioning his or her own cloth face mask.

Additionally, all businesses reopening must comply and implement several new measures outlined here.

On December 2, 2020, Governor Raimondo issued Executive Order 20-102 which extends  several orders, including the mask mandate.

On March 28, Governor Raimondo issued Executive Order 20-14 closing non-critical retail businesses from March 31 – April 13 (Executive Order 20-23 extended the deadline of previous orders in effect until May 8, 2020). . Self storage is not considered a retail business and is therefore unaffected, and is also listed as allowed to remain open under the Department of Business Regulation’s (RI DBR) Guidance on Critical Retail Businesses (page 3). Per Executive Order 20-09, all businesses remaining open must implement CDC guidance to ensure social distancing practices (see page 2, paragraph 3). Anyone who can work from home should. If you feel it is best for you and your employees to close your office, work from home (if able), or limit your hours, please do. Please see our post, Your Facilities and COVID-19, for ideas and reminders to help run your business.

Links Regarding the Executive Order

Eviction Processing Suspended During Crisis

As of June 1, 2020 the Rhode Island Supreme Court ordered that the District Court could “recommence the adjudication of eviction matters… and establish a protocol for the orderly and equitable handling of these matters, giving priority to cases pending for the greatest amount of time.” While this does not affect self storage lien sales, it may affect the ability to evict a tenant based on reasons other than non-payment.

Links Regarding the Eviction Process Suspension

Price Gouging

During a time like this, it is also important that you are aware of your state’s specific guidelines with respect to price gouging. This may effect street rates, promotions, and occupied rates. Below is a summary of Rhode Island’s price gouging law:

Selling “essential commodities” – any goods, services, materials, merchandise, supplies, equipment, resources, or other article of commerce, after the declaration of an emergency at an “unconscionably high price.”

Unconscionably high price means the amount charged represents a gross disparity between the average prices at which the same or similar commodity was readily available and sold or offered for sale within the local trade area in the usual course of business during the thirty (30) days immediately before the declaration of the market emergency and the additional charges are not substantially attributable to increased cost to retailers, imposed by their suppliers, including replacement costs imposed by the vendors’ source.

Links Regarding Price Gouging

Rhode Island State Resources

You can find guidelines to help run your facility whether your office closes or remains open on NeSSA’s earlier post, Your Facilities and COVID-19. Members can find additional resources including websites, webinars, articles, and notice/letter templates on our new COVID-19 Resources page (must be logged in to view).