Dear RINLA Members,
We are facing some challenging times, but I am heartened by the fact that we are resilient and innovators at our very core. 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.
We would like to thank our members who have reached out with questions and suggestions over the last few weeks. Please feel free to continue to do so by emailing Executive Director Shannon Brawley at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling cell: 530-867-1198.
The RINLA board and staff have been in direct communication with the state for some time now – we want to assure you that we are advocating on behalf of agriculture and plant-based industry to be included as “essential services” if the state were to go into a shelter in place order. We are also participating in weekly calls with the RI Department of Environmental Management and other agencies, which allows us a forum to be heard while also looking at ways to address immediate needs, develop innovative ideas, and plan next steps.
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 of Monday March 23: The Governor and the RI Department of Health have banned groups of 10 or more people from gathering. As the guidelines develop, we should be prepared that this may impact some of our members’ businesses. Currently, the RI Department of Health is defining “essential” as: food, medicine, and receiving medical care if you are ill.
The Governor also reiterated that Rhode Island residents who work in another state must work from home if possible. Rhode Island businesses with employees who are residents of another state must make every attempt to let those employees work from home.
All sick employees must stay home.
Under current conditions, garden centers, retail nurseries, and other green industry operations can remain open, but all operating businesses must follow the statewide guidelines and restrictions in force that pertain to social distancing, including prohibiting the grouping of 10 or more people (especially in confined spaces such as greenhouses) and implementing all other social distancing and sanitary requirements.
Some things you can do:
- Consider offering online ordering, curbside pick-up or delivery and/or have people make appointments to come into your facility. Develop a “no-touch” method of selling.
- Think about how you order your supplies. While there is no expectation of a problem, you may experience delays.
- Companies that are sending out landscape crews who are working outside 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) as well as while working on a site and implement all sanitary requirements.
- If an employee is sick because of COVID-19 – or if you elect to close your company during this ban – please see the DLT recommendations and instructions for employers and employees to apply for temporary disability and/or unemployment insurance. There is a place to identify the claim as COVID-19 related. (See link at end of this email)
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:
RIDOH.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 (bit.ly/2UqkzYA). Requests for assistance can also be made by emailing email@example.com or calling (401) 462-2020.
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
Call the COVID-19 Info Line: (401) 521-HELP 
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for 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 email@example.com.
R.I. Society of Certified Public Accountants
- Offers a COVID-19 Business Planning Checklist that covers everything from coronavirus business planning, continuity planning and dealing with clients, and services, suppliers, vendors, and contractors to communications and emergency planning for employees:
Technology Assistance for Rhode Island Companies
- Free Microsoft Office products: http://www.doit.ri.gov/covid-19/
- Coronavirus Resource Center: https://www.americanhort.org/default.aspx
National Association of Landscape Professionals:
- Coronavirus Resource Center: https://www.landscapeprofessionals.org/
- University of Pennsylvania Cooperative Extension: https://extension.psu.edu/coronavirus-best-management-practices-for-the-greenindustry?fbclid=IwAR2rq1Mcq7BSGtOYtww9MiyCzQwSzi8OVl5EenasJ7uzoZfKW8B1kcp2YFw
- How to Navigate COVID with Your Landscape Business: