Rhode Island – Coronavirus State Actions

Governors are working closely with federal and local officials as well as private sector partners to address the threat of the novel coronavirus. This page lists select actions taken to date. It is not intended to be exhaustive but is meant to highlight key actions and resources that may inform other states and territories as they prepare for and respond to the novel coronavirus. All state actions can be viewed here, or visit Coronavirus: What You Need To Know for additional information and resources.


State of Rhode Island Department of Health coronavirus resource page.

  • March 1, 2020—Rhode Island established an Incident Command System response to organize state agency preparedness and response activities. It includes staff from numerous state agencies, including emergency management, behavioral health, education, human services, environmental management, and others.   
  • March 1, 2020—The Rhode Island Department of Health is coordinating with other state agencies and community organizations to support anyone doing self-quarantining to ensure that people who are remaining at home have the support services they need. This includes support with everyday needs, such as prescriptions and groceries. 
  • March 11, 2020—Governor Raimondo issued guidance for large events in Rhode Island to help contain the spread of COVID-19. 
  • March 15, 2020- The Governor announced guidance directing all child care centers in Rhode Island to close. She also announced that the Rhode Island Department of Education will be working with local school districts to make “grab and go” meals available to students while schools are closed.
  • March 18, 2020 – The Governor announced that public schools should implement distance learning through April 3.
  • March 18, 2020 – The Governor signed an executive order that directs health insurers to cover telemedicine visits.
  • March 18, 2020 – The Public Utilities Commission issued an emergency declaration that places a moratorium on public utilities terminating services.
  • March 18, 2020 – The Department of Health announced that out-of-state health care providers can obtain a temporary 90-day license to practice in the state.
  • March 19, 2020 – The Governor made several important announcements about the state’s evolving response strategy:
    • State courts will not process any residential or commercial evictions for the next 30 days.
    • Rhode Islanders who suspect price gouging or COVID-19 scams should report them to the Attorney General’s office.
    • The state created an online form so organizations can donate laboratory supplies and personal protective equipment to fill gaps in due to increased testing demand.
  • March 20, 2020 – The Governor activated the Rhode Island National Guard, allowing 1,000 Guardsmen and Guardswomen to train civilian medical personnel, staff call centers, and distribute food and necessities to the most vulnerable.
  • March 20, 2020 – The Governor extended the 2019 tax filing and payment deadlines to July 15, consistent with changes made in federal law.
  • March 24, 2020 – The Governor announced several initiatives designed to assist frontline workers who may need child care services.
  • March 25, 2020 – The Governor announced new guidelines for retailers and grocers, which must, among other things:
    • Allow no more than 20 percent of state fire capacity in the store at a time;
    • Designate employees to monitor social distancing and assist customers;
    • Offer exclusive hours for those in high-risk populations; and
    • Assign employee(s) to ensure the CDC cleaning guidelines are followed.
  • March 25, 2020 – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Rhode Island’s request for a Section 1135 Medicaid waiver. The approved waiver enables Rhode Island to provide flexibilities in Medicaid provider screening and enrollment, forgo certain pre-admission screening and annual resident review assessments, lift prior authorization requirements, and extend fair hearing and appeals timelines.
  • March 26, 2020 – The Governor signed an Executive Order mandating that anyone who has traveled to New York by any form of transportation must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Rhode Island. The order applies to anyone who has been in New York in the past 14 days and going forward.
  • March 26, 2020 – The Governor announced that small business owners can now receive 45 minutes of free tech support via teleconference or over the phone, which is being coordinated by Rhode Island Commerce and staffed by volunteers from some of Rhode Island’s tech companies.
  • March 26, 2020 – The Governor announced that small business owners can now receive 45 minutes of free tech support via teleconference or over the phone, which is being coordinated by Rhode Island Commerce and staffed by volunteers from tech companies.
  • March 27, 2020 – The Governor extended several regulations and announced several changes to the state’s SNAP program to provide maximum relief as provided by the CARES Act.
  • March 28, 2020 – The Governor announced several state actions, including:
    • Issuing a stay-at-home order until April 13;
    • Ordering anyone coming to Rhode Island by any mode of transportation after visiting another state for a non-work-related purpose to self-quarantine for 14 days;
    • Limiting gatherings to groups no more than 5; and,
    • Closing all non-critical retail businesses.
  • March 29, 2020 – The Governor announced several state actions including:
    • Directing all out-of-state drivers to pull over at information stations, staffed by the National Guard in partnership with the Department of Health;
    • Suspending all childcare licenses until April 4;
    • Suspending all Medicaid terminations at quarterly income verifications; and,
    • Allowing a 90-day extension on DMV expirations for March or April.
  • March 30, 2020 – The Governor delayed the state’s presidential primary to June 2 and will send all registered Rhode Islanders a mail ballot application in the coming weeks.
  • March 30, 2020 – The Governor mandated all child care providers (centers and families) to close, while the state reevaluates child care license suspensions on a week to week basis.
  • March 30, 2020 – The Governor announced several education initiatives:
    • Rhode Island schools will continue distance learning through the month of April;
    • All households that have a smart phone with a WiFi hotspot feature and have cell phone service from one of the four most common providers in the state (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint) will be able to activate the hot spot feature free of charge;
    • All Rhode Island students are challenged to read every single day during the month of April – all thirty days; and,
    • A special press conference will be held this week specifically for kids to have their voices heard and questions answered.
  • March 31, 2020 – The Superior Court established the Business Recovery Plan, whereby courts will use a non-liquidating receivership model to supervise and provide protections for Rhode Island businesses so they can remain operational, access new working capital, and pay debts.
  • March 31, 2020 – The Department of Environmental Management announced the temporary closure of Rhode Island state parks and beaches, along with their parking areas, beginning April 3 and until further notice.
  • March 31, 2020 – The Governor announced three fully operational drive-through testing sites that allows the states to expand testing to additional populations: people who are older than 65, people with underlying medical conditions, and critical infrastructure workers – all of which still must be symptomatic and be referred by a medical provider.
  • April 1, 2020 – The Governor announced several state initiatives to provide relief for individuals and families, including:
    • RI Delivers – a connection to help those living in quarantine or isolation so they have the supportive services they need to safely remain at home and monitor their symptoms;
    • Bridge Loan Program – a partnership with the Local Initiative Support Corporation and the Rhode Island Hospitality Association providing additional funding to restaurants and small businesses (up to 10 employees); and,
    • Family Court – parents who have join custody of their children and feels a modification to visitation is warranted, they may go to Family Court if a resolution between the parents can’t be reached.
  • April 2, 2020 – The Governor expanded testing criteria to include all Rhode Islanders who have symptoms, while underscoring the critical need for people who are experiencing symptoms to practice social distancing and voluntarily self-isolate.
  • April 3, 2020 – The Department of Environmental Management reminded Rhode Islanders that state parks, beaches and campgrounds are closed until at least May 1st.
  • April 3, 2020 – A partnership among Rhode Island Commerce, Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), the Rhode Island Hospitality Association and Bank Newport is providing loans to restaurants or business with 1 to 10 employees need immediate cash while they await an SBA Emergency Injury Disaster Loan advance.
  • April 3, 2020 – The Governor announced several actions related to the state’s ongoing response efforts:
    • Establishing surge sites to provide hospital-level care at the Rhode Island Convention Center, the former Citizens Bank in Cranston, and the former Lowe’s building at Quonset to treat more than 1,000 people;
    • Encouraging Rhode Islanders to consider wearing cloth face covers when in public;
    • Continuing the suspension of childcare licenses through the month of April;
    • Establishing a $5 million Behavioral Health Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation to assist nonprofit organizations working to address Rhode Islanders’ behavioral health needs; and,
    • Expanding testing to all Rhode Islanders displaying COVID-19 symptoms.
  • April 6, 2020 – The Governor reached an agreement with the Secretary of State allowing business transactions that require a notary public to utilize the Remote Online Notarization on a temporary basis.
  • April 7, 2020 – The Governor announced the donation of 208,000 face masks from Rhode Island’s Chinese-American Community to support local response efforts.
  • April 7, 2020 – The Governor announced plans to extend the following executive orders until May 8:
    • All gatherings of more than five people are prohibited;
    • Restaurants, bars and cafes will be closed to dine-in services;
    • Public recreation and entertainment businesses and all close-contact businesses will remain closed;
    • Anyone returning to the state from domestic or international travel by any mode of transportation must self-quarantine for 14 days;
    • All open meetings must take place by phone or video conferencing;
    • Health insurers must cover telemedicine for primary care, specialty care and behavioral health; and,
    • Extending the time period that law enforcement has to complete a background check for a gun permit from seven to 30 days.
  • April 7, 2020 – The Governor signed an executive order ensuring that hospitals provide data to the state regarding supplies, patients being treated for COVID-19, and testing.
  • April 8, 2020 – The Governor announced several updates to the state’s ongoing response efforts:
    • Extending the closure for all non-essential businesses – including residential and commercial evictions – through May 17;
    • Partnering with SalesForce to create a secure database that will allow RIDOH and the National Guard to conduct contact tracing more efficiently and effectively;
    • Providing free fabric to all Rhode Island residents to make their own fabric face coverings.
  • April 9, 2020 – The Governor signed an executive order, clarifying Rhode Island’s requirements around quarantine and isolation:
    • Anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 must self-isolate;
    • People in isolation must self-isolate for at least seven days;
    • People in quarantine must distance themselves from others, including at home; and,
    • Anyone who has been in close contact with an individual who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 must self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • April 10, 2020 – The Governor announced several updates related to the state’s ongoing response efforts:
    • Allowing the Department of Labor and Training to have access to the records of every person that has applied for unemployment insurance, speeding up their ability to process claims; and,
    • Limiting capacity on all Public Transit Authority busses to no more than 15 passengers.
  • April 13, 2020 – The Governor announced that Goldman Sachs committed $10 million for loans for small businesses in Rhode Island through a partnership with Rhode Island Commerce Corporation and with Community Reinvestment Fund.
  • April 14, 2020 – The Governor signed an executive order clarifying the state’s directive around face coverings. Beginning April 18:
    • All employees of customer-facing businesses, office-based businesses, manufacturers and non-profits, must wear cloth face coverings while at work;
    • All customer-facing businesses must take steps to remind customers to wear face coverings; and,
    • Face coverings can include scarves, bandanas, and other homemade and non-factory-made masks.
  • April 14, 2020 – The Governor announced that HealthSourceRI, the state-based health insurance exchange, is extending their special open enrollment period through April 30.
  • April 14 – Rhode Island Commerce in partnership with the RI Department of Business Regulations issued guidelines for businesses to keep workers safe.
  • April 15, 2020 – The Governor unveiled a data dashboard that provides key metrics and county-specific testing and case rates, among other things. 
  • April 15, 2020 – The Governor launched RI Havens, a website that connects those in need of a safe space to quarantine with hotel rooms across the state offered at significantly discounted rates.
  • April 16, 2020 – The Governor unveiled the state’s modeling projection for coronavirus hospitalizations through mid-May.
  • April 16, 2020 – The Governor re-launched a state job-seeking platform to health connect Rhode Islanders with nearly 2,000 open jobs.
  • April 16, 2020 – The Governor announced that the Oak Hill Center in Pawtucket established a COVID-19 Specialty Nursing Home that will be a central facility to accept patients discharged from the hospital who are still COVID-19 positive but no longer require acute-level care.
  • April 17, 2020 – The Governor announced that Beacon Mutual Insurance Company, which insures 12,000 Rhode Island businesses, is allowing frontline healthcare workers to file for workers’ compensation under presumption that they contracted COVID-19 while doing their jobs – and will expedite those claims.
  • April 17, 2020 – The Governor announced the state is implementing a cyclical testing program for all nursing homes to be tested every 7 – 10 days, which involves delivering swabs to nursing homes and picking up samples the next day.
  • April 20, 2020 – The Governor announced the state was granted the authority to issue Pandemic-EBT benefits (P-EBT) to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and non-SNAP households with one or more children who have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price meals at schools due to closures.
  • April 20, 2020 – The Governor outlined the vision for safely reopening the state’s economy. The following six key indicators will be used to gauge readiness to reopen:
    • Has the rate of spread continued to decrease?
    • Does the state have the capacity to quickly identify community spread on an ongoing basis before a major outbreak occurs?
    • Does the state have necessary supports in place for vulnerable populations and for anyone in quarantine?
    • Does Rhode Island’s healthcare system have the capacity and the PPE to handle future surges?
    • Do businesses, schools, childcare facilities, faith leaders and recreational spaces have plans for long-term social distancing?
    • Is the state prepared to reimpose measures or reclose certain sectors of the economy if necessary?
  • April 21, 2020 – The Governor announced the completion of two field hospitals, adding almost 1,000 beds to the state’s capacity.
  • April 21, 2020 – The Governor partnered with Brown University to provide more than 700 free single-occupancy dormitory housing to frontline workers.
  • April 22, 2020 – The Governor launched a self-checker tool, which is a web-based mobile-friendly tool to help Rhode Islanders make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care and testing.
  • April 22, 2020 – The Governor announced that the state is opening a walk-up testing site alongside a drive-up clinic that is currently operating at the former Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket.
  • April 23, 2020 – The Governor announced school buildings will remain closed and distance learning will continue through the end of the school year in June.
  • April 24, 2020 – The Governor announced the state received a shipment of 20,000 antibody tests. In the coming weeks, the state will work with experts at Brown University and the Rhode Island Blood Center to test a random population and collect information about the prevalence of the virus in the state.
  • April 24, 2020 – The Governor announced the Congregate Care Workforce Stabilization Fund to provide temporary pay increases for low-wage frontline workers at eligible Medicaid-funded residential facilities.
  • April 24, 2020 – The Governor announced more than 20 financial institutions in the state pledge the following relief to their residential borrowers:
    • A 90-day grace period for all residential mortgage payments;
    • An agreement to not report lay payments to credit reporting agencies for borrowers taking advantage of this relief;
    • A 60-day moratorium on initiating residential foreclosures and evictions; and,
    • An agreement to waive mortgage-related late fees.
  • April 24, 2020 – The Governor revealed the state will be making available $1.5 million in rental assistance for low income residents across the state.
  • April 25, 2020 – The Governor launched RIArts.org, a portal to connect artists with available resources and provide Rhode Islanders with an up-to-date list of virtual performances happening in the state.
  • April 27, 2020 – The Governor unveiled the “Reopen RI” Framework, which consists of three phases:
    • Phase 1 – Testing the Waters: In this phase, Rhode Islanders can look forward to seeing friends and families again.
    • Phase 2 – Navigating Our Way: In this phase, Rhode Islanders can look forward to more businesses reopening and restrictions being further relaxed.
    • Phase 3 – Picking Up Speed: In this phase, Rhode Islanders can look forward to seeing more of their families and friends, while social gatherings remain limited to 50 people.
  • April 28, 2020 – The Governor issued an executive order intended to promote better coordination of health care coverage. Specifically, the order:
    • Bars insurers from making changes to their formularies, unless such changes benefit patients;
    • Requires insurers to relax the provider referral process to allow for more time and leniency, while suspending requirements for telehealth; and,
    • Requires insurers to cover behavioral health care services without referrals or other benefit review approvals.
  • April 28, 2020 – The Governor announced the DMV is providing 90-day extensions through August on expirations set for May.
  • April 30, 2020 – The Rhode Island Department of Health issued Crisis Standards of Care Guidelines for acute care hospitals, which are intended to ensure an equitable and just allocation of patient resources, should a scarcity arise.
  • May 1, 2020 – The Governor announced a reopening plan for child care providers under new regulations is planned for June 1.
  • May 2, 2020 – The Governor released two models that show COVID-19’s trajectory in Rhode Island over the past month and potential scenarios for the next two weeks regarding hospitalizations. 
  • May 2, 2020 – The Governor announced $1.5 million has been made available in emergency rental assistance for low-income renters and those at immediate risk of homelessness.
  • May 4, 2020 – The Governor outlined additional details on Phase I of the state’s plan to reopen the economy, including guidance for retail, offices, restaurants, and health care providers.
  • May 5, 2020 – The Governor signed an executive order directing everyone in a public place – whether indoors or outdoors – to wear a cloth face covering, with exceptions for children younger than two years of age and anyone whose health would be negatively affected by wearing a face covering.
  • May 6, 2020 – The Governor outlined the state’s comprehensive testing strategy with the goal to test 10,000 Rhode Islanders a day by July.
  • May 6, 2020 – The Governor announced regulations for businesses in Phase 1 are now available on www.ReopeningRI.com.
  • May 7, 2020 – The Governor announced the state’s stay-at-home order will lift on May 8, beginning with the following restrictions:
    • Non-critical retail stores will reopen with capacity limits;
    • Elective medical procedures resume under safety guidelines;
    • Everyone who can work from home, should work from home; and,
    • Some state parks will reopen with limited parking.
  • May 8, 2020 – The Governor signed an executive order officially lifting the state’s stay-at-home order and empowering the Rhode Island Department of Health with the ability to enforce public health guidelines and business regulations, including by levying fines against individuals or businesses.
  • May 9, 2020 – The Governor announced that Summer, a social enterprise that assists student loan borrowers, is partnering with the state to provide free student loan assistance for all residents financially impacted by the crisis.
  • May 9, 2020 – The Governor announced the Public Utilities Commission voted to extend an order that all regulated utilities (electric, gas, water, and sewer) cannot be shut off or sent to a collection agency through May 31.
  • May 11, 2020 – The Governor announced restaurants will be allowed to reopen, beginning with limited outdoor dining in addition to their take-out, delivery, and drive through options starting on May 18.
  • May 13, 2020 – The Governor announced the state will be distributing 500,000 masks and disinfectant solution to Rhode Island businesses through chambers of commerce and industry associations.
  • May 13, 2020 – The Governor announced the state will be distributing 500 laptops, made possible through a generous donation from Microsoft Corporation, to Rhode Island small businesses with fewer than 25 employees.
  • May 13, 2020 – The Governor announced the state launched a new testing site at the Rhode Island Free Clinic in Providence and tripled the testing capacity in Woonsocket.
  • May 14, 2020 – The Governor announced plans to allow summer camps and other youth summer programs to operate in person – under strict regulations – starting June 29.
  • May 14, 2020 – The Governor clarified during Phase 1 of reopening, many libraries are offering curbside pickup of preordered library books. Limited, touchless browsing will begin during Phase 2.
  • May 15, 2020 – The Governor outlined four metrics that officials are tracking as they consider moving between phases of reopening:
    • Hospital Capacity: the state may continue to move forward so long as no more than 85% of ICU and non-ICU beds are filled by COVID-19 patients;
    • Hospitalizations: the state may continue to move forward so long as the state sees fewer than 50 daily COVID-19 related hospitalizations;
    • Rate of spread: the state may continue to move forward so long as the R value (effective reproduction rate) remains below 1.3; and
    • Doubling rate of hospitalizations: the state may continue to move forward so long as hospitalizations do not double within a 20-day period or less.
  • May 18, 2020 – The Department of Environmental Management announced that all Rhode Island state parks are open to visitors.
  • May 18, 2020 – The Governor announced the East Matunuck State Beach and Scarborough State Beach will reopen on Memorial Day, May 25, in a limited capacity.
  • May 18, 2020 – The Governor announced that the state is aiming to allow in-person faith services the weekend of May 30.
  • May 19, 2020 – The Governor announced the first version of CRUSH COVID-19, the state’s pandemic response mobile app with a privacy-first focus.
  • May 20, 2020 – The Governor announced that houses of worship, when they begin reopening the weekend of May 30, will be limited to 25 percent of their overall capacity.
  • May 21, 2020 – The Governor signed an executive order for the 34th supplemental emergency declaration.
  • May 22, 2020 – The Governor signed an executive order extending all current directives – including the five-person limit on social gatherings, and the mandatory 14-day quarantine, and all business and restaurant restrictions – until June 1.
    • The Governor also issued guidance for Phase 2 regarding social gatherings, travel, restaurant and retail reopening, and office spaces.
  • May 26, 2020 – The Governor announced the Rhode Island Commerce and Rhode Island Department of Health will be holding virtual forums for businesses this week, with an opportunity to engage in dialogue and ask questions.
  • May 27, 2020 – The Rhode Island Board of Elections voted unanimously in favor of allowing voters to return their Presidential Preference Primary mail ballot to designated drop boxes located at each City or Town Hall across the state.
  • May 27, 2020 – The Rhode Island Department of Treasury announced the state’s pension system earned more than $450 million from investments in the month of April as the Back to Basics investment strategy continues to provide growth and stability for Rhode Islanders.
  • May 28, 2020 – The Governor issued guidance for personal services, restaurants, and youth sports reopenings in Phase 2.
  • May 28, 2020 – The Governor announced the state will make an additional $5 million available for the Housing Help RI emergency rental assistance fund. Those who qualify can receive a grant of up to $5,000 to support past due rent payments and other fees.
  • May 29, 2020 – The Rhode Island lottery announced the Twin River casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton will begin a limited invitation-only reopening on June 8.
  • May 29, 2020 – The Department of Environmental Management announced that all Rhode Island state beaches will be open to visitors with new restrictions in place beginning June 1.
  • May 29, 2020 – The Governor announced the state will move into Phase 2 on June 1.
  • May 31, 2020 – The Rhode Island Board of Elections has authorized mail ballot return drop boxes to be installed at the 47 polling places set to open for the Presidential Preference Primary on June 2.
  • June 1, 2020 – The Governor advised Rhode Islanders to prepare for the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season and take special precautions to protect themselves from COVID-19 in their hurricane planning.
  • June 10, 2020 – The Governor announced all school districts are aiming to return to in-person learning on August 31.
  • June 10, 2020 – The Governor announced the state will provide financial support to districts as they implement their individual reopening plans, with a focus on equity, including a prioritization of resources for hardest hit communities.
  • June 10, 2020 – The Governor announced that, for the first time, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants are now able to select and pay for their groceries online using their EBT card at Amazon and participating Walmart stores.
  • June 10, 2020 – The Governor announced the Department of Human Services received approval to issue a Rhode Island Works emergency payment to families currently receiving these RI Works benefits. 
  • June 12, 2020 – The Attorney General announced that his office has issued guidance reminding nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and long-term care facilities that they are not permitted to seize, retain, or confiscate a resident’s federal stimulus payment. 
  • June 12, 2020 – The Governor announced asymptomatic restaurant workers and bus drivers can now receive free testing.
  • June 12, 2020 – The Governor announced that the state is allocating $500,000 in financial incentives to landlords that rent to housing-insecure or homeless Rhode Islanders.
  • June 12, 2020 – The Governor launched a website dedicated to tracking coronavirus spending.
  • June 26, 2020 – The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training announced new maximum weekly benefit amounts for unemployment and temporary disability insurance programs, beginning July 1.
  • June 29, 2020 – The Governor announced the state will move into Phase 3 on June 30.
  • June 29, 2020 – The Governor extended the following executive orders through August 3:
    • Face coverings: Face coverings must be worn in public – both indoors and outdoors – whenever six feet of social distance cannot be maintained.
    • Telemedicine: Health insurers must cover telemedicine for primary care, specialty care, and mental and behavioral health care conducted over the phone or by videoconference. Reimbursement rates for providers must be the same as reimbursement rates for in-office visits.
    • Disaster declaration: The state of emergency declaration ensures that Rhode Island has access to all the necessary resources to support the response to the pandemic.
    • Firearms: The Governor extended the time period that law enforcement has to complete a background check for a gun permit from seven days to 30 days.
    • Quarantine: People must follow the state’s quarantine and isolation guidance.
  • June 30, 2020 – The Department of Environmental Management announced that four Rhode Island state campgrounds are now open to visitors with new restrictions and procedures to prevent viral transmission.
  • July 2, 2020 – The Governor announced a plan to expand home-based care options in Rhode Island to shift from the reliance on nursing and other congregate care facilities.
  • July 3, 2020 – The Governor announced long-term care and assisted living facilities will be allowed to welcome visitors again on July 8, provided that they abide by strict infection control measures and keep residents, staff and family members safe.