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DEM COVID-19 Updates

For the latest information about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) visit the Rhode Island Department of Health.

DEM is responding to the evolving COVID-19 situation in a number of ways. Across the Department, DEM remains fully operational and committed to serving customer needs. However, we have limited walk-in service at locations with the most frequent lines and crowds. We encourage customers to use online, telephonic, or mail-in services whenever possible. Please check this page for updates on DEM programs, process changes, and response initiatives.

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Doing Business With Us Rhode Island on PAUSE / Grants Sports Venue Support Fund Sports Guidance/Resources ReopeningRI Take It Outside Initiative Environmental Protection Emergency Regulations Fuel Waivers RI State Parks & Beaches Marine Fisheries Fishing & Boating Party & Charter Boats Cruise Ships Marinas Outdoor Recreation Outdoor Education Programs Guidance for RI Farmers Animal Health Garden Centers RI Agriculture Local Food Materials Management

 
 
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Doing business with us

DEM remains open and fully operational. However, due to guidelines related to COVID-19, we have limited walk-in service at locations with the most frequent lines and crowds. We encourage customers to use online, telephonic, or mail-in services whenever possible.

Reopening Guidance for DEM Headquarters in Providence

The State of Rhode Island has been working hard to make sure state employees have the tools they need to navigate the workplace in a COVID-19 world. As we move past weathering the storm and toward reopening the economy, safety and awareness are key to protecting yourself and others in the workplace. Below, you’ll find tools to help you find your way.

 
Submitting Permit Applications

The Permit Application Center (PAC) at DEM Headquarters located at 235 Promenade Street in Providence is still accepting and processing applications and honoring all scheduled in-person appointments, but walk-in service is paused at the PAC until further notice. Applications can be dropped off directly outside the PAC, and the team will respond within one to two business days.

Contact DEM at 401-222-4700 ext. 7265 or email DEM.PAC@dem.ri.gov with questions or to set up an appointment for other services. If you are seeking assistance for wetlands or OWTS/septic systems, please call 401-222-4700 and ask for the person on-call for the specific program.

Boating Registrations & Fishing/Hunting Licenses, Permits, & Tags

Walk-in service at DEM's Office of Boat Registration and Licensing in Providence has been paused. The Office can provide most of its services online and new vessels can be registered by mail. Learn More

Fish & Wildlife: Blue Cards, Wildlife Rehab Tests, Outdoor Education Programs

The Division of Fish & Wildlife Headquarters in West Kingston is closed to walk-ins. Needs are being met by phone at 401-789-0281, mail, or email (DEM.DFW@dem.ri.gov). No Blue Card tests or Wildlife Rehabilitation Tests will be offered. Blue Card tests are available at non-DEM locations. Learn More

The Division of Fish & Wildlife Outdoor Education Office, Arcadia Management Area, Exeter is closed to walk-ins. Needs are being met by phone, mail, or email. Walk-in Hunter Safety and Bow Hunter exams will be postponed until May 1. Contact the Office at 401-539-0019.

Commercial Fishing

The Division of Marine Fisheries and Coastal Resources (Port of Galilee) locations. Needs are being met by phone, mail, or email. Whelk pot and tautog tags are not available for pickup at DEM’s offices. The rules requiring these tags begin on April 1st, but DEM will temporarily not enforce the whelk pot and tautog tag rules; the requirement is postponed until May 1, 2020. Learn More

Purchasing Parking Placards for the Galilee State Parking Lot G

Due to guidelines related to COVID-19, DEM's Coastal Resources office in Galilee has made adjustments to procedures to limit walk-in service. Applications for seasonal parking placards for Galilee State Parking Lot G are available for mail in submission only. Download the application here. Please mail the completed application, copies of vehicle registrations, copy of valid driver’s license, and check made payable to the State of RI to RIDEM Division of Coastal Resources at 301 Great Island Rd, Narragansett, RI 02882. We will process your application and mail the completed placard back to the address listed on your application.

 
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Reopening RI

Phase Guidance

All guidance for re-opening non-critical retail businesses (see Guidance on Critical Retail Businesses for list of non-critical retail businesses) can be found at www.reopeningri.com under business guidelines. This guidance also applies to critical retail businesses currently in operation (including farmers markets, on-farm deliveries, and pick-your-own operations, retail garden centers, marinas, and charter and party boat operations)  

If you have any questions about this guidance, please contact the Department of Business Regulation via the online form at https://dbr.ri.gov/questioncomplaints/ or at 401.462.9500.

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Environmental Protection

The environmental protection programs at DEM are continuing to adjust to the changing conditions from the COVID-19 pandemic and our highest priority remains protection of public health and safety, including the health and safety of our staff, and protection of our environment. Our intention is to recognize the conditions and limitations that currently exist and provide flexibility and relief where needed and appropriate while still maintaining a high level of protection. Some of those conditions may include difficulties securing equipment, maintaining staffing levels and professional support, and conducting some monitoring activities. We also recognize the economic stresses that many individuals and businesses are currently experiencing.

We are not providing any broad relief measures or policies. Businesses and other regulated entities are encouraged to contact DEM with any specific issues that they are encountering that relate to regulatory compliance. Requests for relief will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Those requests should be specific as to how current conditions related to COVID-19 are causing the issue, the environmental effects of noncompliance if applicable, and what efforts have been made to comply to the highest degree feasible. The requests should also explain the length of time necessary for the relief and what steps will be taken to return to full regulatory compliance at the earliest opportunity.

We will continue to evaluate this approach as conditions change. DEM continues to conduct inspections and field investigations and will address instances of non-compliance as appropriate. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, all regulatory programs within the Environmental Protection Bureau are fully operational.

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Fuel Waivers for Gasoline Suppliers, Distributors, and Retailers

DEM has evaluated the impact that responses and actions related to the COVID-19 public health threat and the declarations by state and national leaders have had on fuel supplies in Rhode Island. Based upon this evaluation, RIDEM has determined that as a result of the risk mitigation measures needed to address the public health threat and the emergency declarations related to COVID-19, the public’s driving habits have significantly decreased to the point where gasoline consumption has drastically dropped. RIDEM is aware that distributors are experiencing an over-supply of winter gasoline relative to this time of year, making it difficult or impossible to shift supplies to a lower volatility fuel.

In response to requests, RIDEM issued a RVP fuel waiver on March 26, 2020 to provide relief to the April 1st deadline. View April 1, 2020 waiver.

On April 7, DEM provided a waiver from the May 1, 2020 RVP fuel requirements. This waiver concurs with the federal waiver that was issued on March 27th and provides relief from RIGL 31-37-7.1 and Air Pollution Control Regulation No. 11 - Petroleum Liquids Marketing and Storage (250-120-05-11). The original waiver was good through May 20, 2020. Both the April 1 waiver and May 1 waiver may be extended, if conditions warrant an extension.

On May 5, DEM extended the waiver through June 30. View May 5, 2020 waiver.

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RI State Parks

All state parks, saltwater beaches, and most state campgrounds are open with new restrictions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Face masks should be worn if you are within 6 feet of anyone outside your household.

Reopening RI Guidance

 

Learn more

Emergency Operation Orders

 
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Fishing

Trout Fishing

Rhode Island lakes, ponds, rivers and streams are now open to fish for trout. While freshwater fishing is open year-round for other species, trout are stocked by DEM each winter in preparing for a special trout season that opens traditionally on the second Saturday in April. DEM adopted an emergency regulation opening the freshwater fishing season early this year in order to eliminate the large crowds that often accompany the traditional Opening Day of trout fishing season in April.

Anglers must follow social distancing practices and maintain a distance of at least six feet from others and in groupings of no more than five persons. If you arrive at a favorite fishing spot and find that crowds are forming or the parking lots is full, please leave and choose a different location or return at another time or day.

Click here for stocking locations and tips for staying safe.

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Take It Outside

Governor Raimondo's "Take It Outside" initiative aims to help businesses and organizations move activities outside that would normally be held inside, such as meetings, classes, exams, workshops or other similar activities. State parks throughout Rhode Island have several locations which may be suitable for these purposes. Some locations may require a reservation fee and a certificate of insurance. If your business or organization is interested in hosting an activity at a state park, please contact us so we can assist you.

Learn more
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Outdoor Recreation

DEM manages over 64,000 acres of land, only 7,400 of which are state parks. To ensure adequate social distancing and avoid groups of more than five from congregating, people should not get in their car and drive to recreate. Instead, they should take their walks close to home with their family. It is important that if you plan to visit natural spaces, that you do your part to stop the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing. Click here for the latest updates and tips for staying safe.

Overview
 
Taking a Blue Card Test

Blue card tests are not currently available at the PAC or at the Division of Fish & Wildlife Headquarters at the Great Swamp Management Area in West Kingston, but the tests are still available at other locations. Blue cards are presented to firearm dealers to certify that the applicant has successfully passed the State's requisite safety exam. Click here for a list of testing locations.

Great Swamp Shooting Range

In response to the COVID-19 public health crisis, new procedures are now in use at the Great Swamp Shooting Range in West Kingston. Learn more.

DFW Outdoor Education

RI DEM Division of Fish & Wildlife offers a variety of public programming through the Hunter Safety Education, Aquatic Resource Education and Wildlife Outreach programs. Programs include hunter and bowhunter safety courses, safe and responsible fishing training, teacher training, and environmental education opportunities for Rhode Islanders of all ages. As Rhode Island begins Phase 3 of the COVID-19 reopening plan, the DEM Division of Fish and Wildlife will begin offering these educational opportunities to the public. View DFW Outdoor Education COVID-19 Control Plans

Purchasing Fishing and Hunting Licenses and Registering Boats

DEM is encouraging anglers, boaters and hunters to purchase their 2020 fishing and hunting license and renew their boat registration through DEM's Licensing and Registration portal. This online service provides customers with streamlined, on-demand access to the licensing and registration process from the comfort of home – eliminating the need for an in-person visit to DEM offices.

All walk-in service at the Office of Boat Registration and Licensing is paused until further notice.

Boaters are encouraged to renew their registration through the online portal. Upon completion of the online renewal, boat owners will be able to print a temporary registration that allows the vessel to be used during the two-week period while the registration is being processed and the decal mailed.

New vessels can be registered by mail by filling out a registration application, outboard motor registration application and title application. Boaters may also deposit their applications in the drop-off boxes outside the Boat Registration and Licensing office at DEM Headquarters at 235 Promenade Street in Providence.

For more information, call the Boat Registration and Licensing office at 401-222-6647 (M-F 8:30-3:30)

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Rhode Island on PAUSE

Beginning November 30, Rhode Island will be hitting Pause for two weeks. The Pause is intended to reduce community transmissionof COVID-19 by dialing down overall mobility and reducingsocial gatherings. These reductions are key to stemming Rhode Island’s recent increase in cases and hospitalizationsover the winter months. Learn more

Business Relief Grants for Rhode Island on Pause

The Rhode Island Division of Taxation is administering a new grant program announced on November 25, 2020 by Governor Gina M. Raimondo to assist businesses directly affected by the new restrictions imposed by the Governor’s Executive Order - “Rhode Island on Pause”. Grants up to $50,000 for affected entities. THE DEADLINE TO APPLY IS DECEMBER 11, 2020

Grant Program for RI on Pause
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Party & Charter Boat Operations

In accordance with Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) emergency regulations, party and charter boat operators should refer to and adhere to the Reopening RI General Business/Organization Guidelines. The State prepared a fillable checklist to assist businesses and organizations in meeting the requirements outlined in these RIDOH regulations. Party and charter boat operators must comply with RIDOH regulations and active executive orders.

In addition to complying with RIDOH regulations and executive orders, all trips must follow procedures outlined in this guidance document specific to party and charter operations. All trips must accommodate physical distancing and cleaning procedures, require face coverings, and limit group sizes based on vessel size as described, as well as other practices as explained in the guidance document. Online bookings are strongly encouraged to eliminate paper tickets and cash transactions.

All captains should read the full guidance documentand supporting materials, and create a COVID-19 Control Plan. The plan must be available for inspection by RIDOH upon request.

Reopening Guidance for Party & Charter Boat Operations

For more information or if you have questions please contact Dean Hoxsie at dean.hoxsie@dem.ri.gov.

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Cruise Ships

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, RIDEM has significant concerns regarding public health risks associated with cruise ships docking and/or disembarking at state facilities. After consultation with the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and in consideration of the City of Newport’s July 9, 2020 Executive Order prohibiting commercial cruise ships of any size from entering Newport’s harbor/port and from disembarking at any public or private facility, RIDEM is adopting a policy prohibiting commercial cruise ships, of any size, from docking and/or disembarking passengers or crew at any state facility, dock, or pier until further notice.

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Marinas

Due to Covid 19 and the Governors Executive Order, DEM has provided guidance for the operation of marinas, yacht clubs and harbor masters. This guidance allows for business operations, provides safety measures for marina staff and recommends prevention measures for the transmission and spread of COVID-19. Click here for Marina, Yacht Club and Harbor Master Guidance. Resources for patrons: Boating Signage; Marina Signage. View additional information: CRMC guidance and Business guidelines during crisis.

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Marine Fisheries

Walk-in service at the Division of Marine Fisheries has been paused. Needs are being met by phone, mail, or email.

Obtaining Whelk Pot and Tautog Tags

UPDATE: 5/28/20
Please be advised the Coastal Resources building at 301 Great Island Rd. in Galilee is now open. Commercial fishermen participating in the commercial tautog fishery must now pick up commercial Tautog tags at this office. Tags are no longer available through the mail.

For persons picking up additional tags, a new application must be completed, and all tags previously obtained must be accounted for on the tautog tag reporting form (attached), which must be completed and submitted when obtaining additional tags. The tag application form is found here.

Please also be advised that the last day of the spring season is May 31, 2020, with the fishery re-opening on August 1, 2020.

All reporting requirements and other marine fisheries regulations remain in effect. DEM's Marine Fisheries staff are currently serving all customer needs by phone, mail, and email. For questions, contact the Division of Marine Fisheries at 401-423-1923 or DEM.MarineFisheries@dem.ri.gov and the Division of Coastal Resources at 401-783-5551.

New Licenses for Direct Sales of Certain Seafood Products

Direct Sale Dealer License

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the DEM has filed an emergency regulation that establishes a new Direct Sale Dealer License. The new dealer license is available to RI residents holding a valid commercial fishing license or resident landing permit that allows for the harvest and landing of finfish and/or crustaceans in RI.

The license authorizes the direct sale of certain species of finfish directly to consumers and licensed seafood retailers from the vessel on which they were harvested. The license also authorizes the sale, and transport for sale, of live lobsters and crabs directly to consumers and licensed seafood retailers from the vessel on which they were harvested. Learn more

UPDATE: 5/29/20
Shellfish Direct Sales Eligibility

The Rhode Island Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Environmental Management (DEM) have evaluated options to allow for direct sales of shellfish to consumers in order to alleviate some of the challenges associated with selling shellfish during the COVID-19 pandemic. The information provided here applies to both wild harvest shellfish and cultured shellfish in Rhode Island. To participate, specific eligibility requirements must be met in order to remain compliant with the Food and Drug Administration’s National Shellfish Sanitation Program’s Guide for Control of Molluscan Shellfish, as well as the Rhode Island Food Code. Learn more

Emergency Regulation

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RI Farmers & Local Food

Guidance for Farmers & Food Producers

DEM Division of Agriculture has prepared resouces for farmers to practice safe food production, as well as guidance materials for farmers markets, on-farm deliveries, and pick-your-own operations, and garden centers.

Access the full list of guidance documents here


Animal Health

DEM has provided guidelines for people who have frequent animal contact (e.g. pets, farmers, horses) and who are wondering what they can and should do during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 GUIDANCE: Critical Animal Contact

Currently, there is no evidence that viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread to people from the skin, fur, or hair of animals. Health officials always recommend that people always wash their hands after touching or having any contact with animals as a general precaution. Washing hands after touching or having contact with animals will prevent the spread of many diseases. More information and frequently asked questions.


Connecting Consumers with Local Food

DEM is spearheading initiatives to support RI's commercial fishing and seafood industry, as well as farmers and local food producers during the COVID-19 Coronavirus crisis by helping connect consumers with retailers of local food. While Rhode Island restaurants, markets, and retailers remain closed to dining in at this time, many continue to offer take-out, delivery, and curb-side options.

Seafood markets provide important opportunities for consumers to buy direct and commercial lobstermen offer fresh, dockside sales.

Find RI Seafood.

Find local food at farmers markets, restaurants, and other retailers, as well as resources to help our local food industry.

Find RI Grown Food

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Materials Management

Guidance for Medical Waste Generators

Rhode Island Medical Waste Regulations require universal precautions to ensure that ALL medical waste be packaged in a manner that protects those who handle medical waste as well as the general public. View Guidance letter for Medical Waste Generators.

 
COVID-19 Updates
Reopening RI
RIDOH Updates

Governor Raimondo is urging all Rhode Island residents to practice social distancing to help minimize community spread of COVID-19. For the latest information about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) visit the Rhode Island Department of Health.

Boating

COVID-19  

DEM is asking boaters to follow COVID-19 social distancing rules and other safety guidelines as they work on their boats at marinas and boatyards and while they're on the water. Boaters are urged to follow these safety rules to protect themselves and others:

  • Stay close to home. Travel to and from the access site without making other stops.
  • Boat only with people in your immediate household.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others at all times and keep your distance on the water by not tying up to other boats or beaching your boat near other boaters.
  • Fuel up and plan ahead by packing hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and disposable gloves. When fueling, wash your hands as you would when fueling a car. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • When launching and loading your boat, give people ahead of you plenty of time and space to finish launching or loading before you approach.
  • Do not enter the marina office unless you have an appointment.
  • While on the water, find a secluded spot away from others to relax.
  • Call ahead to your destination to make sure it is open and accepting visitors.
  • When returning, be prepared to dock or trailer with your own crew and avoid assistance.
  • Keep distance at dock. Dispose of trash according to marina rules and guidelines.
  • If you are sick or exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19 such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, stay home and self-isolate for 14 days.
 

Getting Outside

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