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Operational Guidance for Marine Business During Rhode Island’s COVID-19 Phase I Reopening

As many Rhode Islanders know, the Governor has recently released a plan to begin phased reopening as the State begins to emerge from the Coronavirus crisis. As part of that phased reopening, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management has issued guidance regarding the operation of boatyards, marinas and yacht clubs during the first phase of this reopening. These protocols must be in place by May 1, 2020, in order for businesses’ customers to access their vessels.

RIDEM has issued the following general guidelines:

  1. Owners/operators must post signage advising employees and patrons of COVID-19 guidance including postings on boat ramps.
  2. Marinas, boatyards and yacht clubs should remain secure so that admittance can be monitored by owners/operators.
  3. The number of patrons on the property or in an area is limited in accordance with current Executive Orders and other appropriate guidance or regulations, including social distancing guidance to ensure all persons remain 6 feet apart at all time.
  4. High-touch areas in restrooms or porta johns should be cleaned at least every 2 hours; in the absence of the ability to have areas cleaned every two hours, and in instances when restrooms are infrequently in use, cleaning wipes and/or cleaning materials must be available for individuals to clean surfaces before and after.
    • Ensure that the facility is supplied with soap and water or hand sanitizer at all times.
    • Signage must be provided to alert users of last official cleaning and encourage users to clean surfaces before and after use.
  5. Any communal areas should be closed, including but not limited to:
    • Ice machines, refrigerators, gas shacks, storage areas, or the like in any other areas that members may have used to store food, drinks, gas tanks, etc.
  6. Consistent with the Executive Order allowing travel to Rhode Island for work purposes, the use of boat ramps by out of state residents (“non-residents”) for Commercial Fishing purposes is allowed.
  7. Facilities located indoors and all amenities belonging to the marinas, boatyards, or yacht clubs remain closed to members and the public, including bars, restaurants, clubhouses, and communal kitchens.
    • Sales from a marina retail store are allowed but must be done by curbside pickup only.
    • Licensed food establishments can offer take-out food orders only, for pick-up or delivery from associated food businesses.
    • All transactions should be done electronically.

RIDEM has issued the following guidelines concerning employees of marine businesses:

  1. Any employee who is ill should isolate at home until they have been symptom free for 3 full days without the use of fever-reducing medicine AND at least 7 days have passed from symptom onset.
  2. Employers should establish screening procedures to screen all employees for exposure to or symptoms of coronavirus, particularly at the beginning of their workday or shift. A screening tool is available, in English and Spanish, to aid employers with the proper screening of employees at
    • If an employee appears ill or reports any symptoms of COVID-19, they should be sent home. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle pain, chills, repeated shaking with chills, sore throat, headache, or new loss of taste or smell.
  3. Employers must ensure that all employees receive adequate COVID-19 instruction related to these protocols. This requires addressing any language barriers that might prevent effective communications.
  4. Employers must provide employees with time to wash hands as needed.
  5. Face coverings must be provided to all employees by the employer and worn by all employees.
    • The face covering requirement must be clearly displayed in signage and on business websites and through social media, along with other safety protocols. Signs are available at
  6. Fuel docks may open to all with attendants wearing proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

RIDEM has issued the following guidelines concerning patrons of marine businesses:

  1. Transient dockage from out of state boats remains prohibited.
  2. RI residents may continue to access facilities to work on, launch and use their boats.
    • Adherence to social distancing guidelines and protocols is required.
  3. Beginning May 1st, non-residents may also access these facilities to work on their boats.
    • Non-residents must adhere to Rhode Island’s social distancing guidelines and protocols.
    • Non-residents who access fueling docks from the water must continue to remain on their vessel during fueling.
    • Non-residents must return to their home state after they complete their work.
  4. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-recommended and state-required social distancing of at least 6 feet must be followed.
  5. Patrons should not congregate on the docks, parking lots, common areas, or near other customer boats on land.
    • Customers should go from vehicle directly to boat and back.
  6. No patrons should have any access to buildings, sheds, storage bays, or mechanical or service departments.
  7. All patrons in public spaces should wear a face covering in accordance with Governor Gina Raimondo’s Executive Order 20-24

The above guidance may be adjusted and updated in the weeks or months to come, as the State enters new phases of the reopening plan.

About The Author

A professional headshot of Joshua Parks.

Joshua S. Parks

Josh is a member of the firm’s litigation group. His diverse practice involves assisting clients on a wide array of civil… Read More

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