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7/13/2021 Governor signs into law Rep. McEntee and Sen. DiMario’s bill that would allow restaurants to continue to use COVID-19 modifications, such as outdoor seating
STATE HOUSE – Governor Daniel McKee has signed into law Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee and Sen. Alana M. DiMario’s legislation which imposes a moratorium on the enforcement of any municipal ordinance or zoning requirement that would penalize owners of food service establishments and bars for any modifications or alternations to their premises in response to an emergency declaration by the governor or local municipal officials.

“Our restaurants are consistently ranked as one of our state’s best assets and this storied industry has been truly decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.  While many businesses have sadly closed their doors for good, our hospitality industry has adapted and many restaurants and other businesses have invested great sums of money in order to continue operating in a safe manner for the public.  In particular, the ‘take it outside’ initiative proved to be a great success and the purpose of this legislation is to allow these businesses to continue ‘taking it outside,’ especially as the weather begins to turn more favorable once again.  Presently, many, if not all of these businesses, would be running afoul of their local zoning laws once our current emergency declaration is lifted and we cannot let that happen to these already struggling small businesses.  This bill will give our restaurants and other hospitality businesses the chance to earn back the significant losses they have all incurred over the past year, we owe them all that much,” said Representative McEntee, Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee.

“This bill is essential to our restaurants and bars who are still struggling to recover from the effects of the pandemic.  The legislation will also allow these establishments to apply to make these successful and popular changes permanent, such as the outdoor dining areas and takeout windows.  It was inspiring to see how establishments and patrons adapted to the ‘new normal’ of COVID-19 and in order to continue this momentum through our summer of recovery, these small businesses need and deserve to continue with the operations that allowed them to survive over the past 18 months,” said Senator DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown).

The legislation (2021-H 6119B / 2021-S 0654A) states that the moratorium imposed shall continue throughout the emergency declaration and will remain effective until April 1, 2022.  During this period, all approved nonconforming uses, such as outdoor seating at restaurants, adopted to comply with the emergency declaration shall be permitted to continue.

For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903