“Non-essential” businesses in Rhode Island remain shut down by order of Governor Gina Raimondo even as unemployment filings shoot up and COVID-19 projections drop markedly. While trucking has not been directly impacted by the shutdown order, as an industry that interacts with all businesses in Rhode Island – manufacturing, farms, restaurants, small shops, big box stores – trucking has a unique position and voice as Rhode Island looks to re-open.
The governor has said that she doesn’t know what regulations will be issued to allow businesses to re-open. But this is quickly and easily fulfilled: the state simply needs to tell all businesses to follow the manufacturers’ lead and take the same pledge that was exclusively afforded to this sector several weeks ago.
Notably, Rhode Island’s entire manufacturing sector, even non-essential entities manufacturing luxury yachts, were exempted from the shutdown as of a month ago. They were allowed to remain operational because they took a pledge to adhere to an operational health protocol outlined by the Rhode Island Department of Health. The Rhode Island Trucking Association (RITA) concurs with this course but questions why this opportunity has not been afforded to all businesses in Rhode Island who could similarly adopt protocols and protections specific to their operations.
RITA members see the bigger picture and want all businesses in the state to flourish. Accordingly, we respectfully urge that Governor Raimondo immediately grant all shuttered businesses the opportunity to re-open provided they follow the “manufacturers’ pledge model”. Ultimately, all Rhode Island businesses and their employees are essential and deserve not to be disadvantaged by what could be viewed as an arbitrary, subjective and preferential order.
Chris Maxwell is President and CEO of the Rhode Island Trucking Association.