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Monday, May 31, 2021

Ruthie's not going to like this

House passes Rep. McEntee’s bill that would allow restaurants to continue to use COVID-19 modifications, such as outdoor seating

The Charlestown Rathskeller
The House of Representatives passed Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee’s (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett) legislation (2021-H 6119Aaa) which imposes a six month moratorium on enforcement of municipal ordinances or zoning requirements that penalizes owners of food service establishments for modifications and alternations to their premises in response to an emergency declaration.

“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.

The moratorium proposed by Representative McEntee would be effective during the period of emergency and for six months after the emergency declarations is rescinded or until January 1, 2022, whichever occurs first.

Representatives Gregory J. Costantino (D-Dist. 44, Lincoln, Smithfield, Johnston), Justine A. Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich), Terri Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown), Robert D. Phillips (D-Dist. 51, Woonsocket, Cumberland), Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport), Liana M. Cassar (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence), Joshua J. Giraldo (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls), Julie A. Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter), and Scott A. Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence) are the cosponsors of the legislation.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration where Sen. Alana M. DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown) has introduced similar legislation (2021-S 0654).