Lochner Law Firm, P.C.

Todd D. Lochner
Chris J. McNally*
Eugene E. Samarin
Gregory R. Singer

Lochner Law Firm, P.C.
Donner Building
91 Main St., 4th Floor
Annapolis, MD 21401

P: (443) 716-4400
F: (443) 716-4405

Contact Us

* Barred in RI & MA


Updated September 3, 2020

The United States, and many states, declared a state of emergency regarding the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), forcing school closures, limitations on gatherings and other disruptions to the normal business operations. As the nation braces for the effects of this unprecedented time, both state and federal agencies are working on solutions to help businesses, employers and employees.

This is an overview of some of the issues that impact and help business operations. For a list of services that this office can assist you with, click here.

Table of Contents
CARES Act Maryland State of Emergency Force Majeure
Families First Act Rhode Island State of Emergency COVID-19 Scams
Aid to Independent Contractors Florida State of Emergency Mortgages
Related Media


On March 25, 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the “CARES Act”. The act is the largest stimulus package in US history and designed to help Americans through he COVID-19 crisis. The bill covers a multitude of areas, including help to individuals and various industries that are impacted by the epidemic.

This is an overview of some of the CARES Act (it is over 800 pages) and how it will help business operations. Nothing is actionable until the law is signed, but this will assist your planning.

Read the Full version of the Act.

A. Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed

The US Government is issuing loans to eligible business to help cover payroll and other expenses during the COVID 19 epidemic. These loans are guaranteed by the United States and any default of them will be excused, if used to cover authorized payments. Under this program, lenders are required to defer payments of principal, interest and fees for a minim of 6 months, but no more than 1 year at zero to four percent interest.

If you retain 90% of your workforce during this COVID 19 epidemic, then you may have forgiveness of the loan in an amount equal to the sum of the following costs incurred and payments made during the covered period (generally 8 weeks):

  • Payroll and payroll costs

  • Any payment of interest on any covered mortgage obligation (which shall not include any prepayment of or payment of principal on a covered mortgage obligation)

  • Any payment on any covered rent obligation

  • Any covered utility payment

Loan amounts are to be calculated based on reported payroll, expenses, etc. The loans are for variable years with a maximum interest rates of 3.75% with no prepayment penalties (including any portion not forgiven as described above). There are no fees for the loans.

The Administration will provide guidance for this program within 30 days. Meanwhile, here are the most relevant sections which apply to your business. On April 24, 2020, Congress approved additional funding to the program.

  1. What Businesses Are Eligible?
    • Any business, non-profit, veterans or tribal organization that is in operation on February 15, 2020
      • Employs 500 or less employees; or
      • Employs the standard size of employees established by the Administration
    • Independent Contractors
    • Sole Proprietors
    • Self Employed Individuals
    • Franchises
    • Any company receiving assistance from the SBA

  2. What the Loan Can be used for?
    • Employee salaries, commissions or similar compensations
    • Payments made under the Families First Act
    • Costs relating to group health care benefits and insurance premiums during periods of sick, medical or family leave
    • Payroll costs
    • Interest payments on mortgage (principal obligations not included)
    • Rent
    • Utilities
    • Interest on any other debt incurred before covered period

  3. What is considered Employee compensation?
    • Salary, wage, commission or similar compensation
    • Tips
    • Vacation, parental, family, medical, or sick leave
    • Allowance for dismissal or separation
    • Group health care benefits, including insurance premiums
    • Retirement Benefits
    • Payment of State or local employment taxes
    • Federal payroll taxes
    • Payments to Independent Contractors or sole proprietors
      • Limit to $100,000 in 1 year; and
      • Prorated for the covered period
    • Compensation to persons over $100,000 per year are prorated for the covered period

This part will be updated as soon as the guidelines become available from the various government entities and lenders.

B. Business Credits for Employers Subject to Closure

Any business that was ordered to shut down or partially shutdown, but who kept employees on their payroll, and suffered loss of more than 50% from the past year, is eligible to receive a quarterly tax credit toward employment taxes.

  • Any business that takes an assistance loan is not eligible for this program

  • Tax credit for each calendar quarter and amount equal to 50% of qualified wages for each employee. Wages are capped at $10,000 for each eligible employee

  • Tax credit will be reduced for any payments under the Families First Act

  • This credit shall apply to qualified health plans as well

  • A business may opt out of this quarterly tax credit

C. Changes to Business Taxes

  • Businesses may elect to use 2019 adjusted taxable income for 2020

  • Limit on business interest decreased

  • There are modifications available to calculate net operating losses

  • Tax exemption for alcohol used to produce hand sanitizer

D. Assistance for American Workers, Families, and Businesses

  • Individual tax credits
    • Amount
      • $1,200 for individual returns
      • $2,400 for joint returns
      • $500 per child

    • Eligible Individuals will be based on Adjusted Gross Income, with phase out starting at:
      • $75,000 for individual returns
      • $112,500 for head of household returns
      • $150,000 for joint returns

    • This tax credit maybe reduced by the aggregate of other refunds and credits

    • Payment will be made by the IRS, with a 15 day mailing of how the funds were disbursed

    • These credits will be tax free as they are to be treated as refunds

    • More information on this program will follow form the IRS

  • Additional tax credit(s) for charitable contributions to fight COVID 19. There are limits but your are allowed some carryover

  • Retirement Funds
    • Any withdrawal from a retirement fund for COVID 19 distribution, will not be subject to a penalty

    • Withdrawal shall not exceed more than $100,000 for the year

    • Any distribution taken, can be reimbursed to the fund within 3 years. This means that you can reimburse the retirement account equal to the amount taken, and above the contribution limits

    • There will also be an increase to the eligible loan limits against retirement plans to $100,000, with a delayed repayment schedule

    • IRS will also waive minimum distribution requirements

  • Grants for State Programs
    US Government will offer Grants to States that wish to provide short term compensation programs. These will be state programs that will have support from the US Government. The Secretary of Labor is encouraging that States create multiple grant programs.

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
    Anyone who does not qualify for regular compensation or extended benefits under state, federal law or pandemic emergency unemployment compensation, including those who have exhausted all regular unemployment benefits, and who is unable to work due to COVID 19, either because they are sick or caring for someone, shall receive unemployment benefits for maximum 39 weeks.

  • The federal government is increasing federal unemployment benefits funding. States are allowed to enter into agreements for various programs. Check with your state to see if they are participating.

  • If consumer account goes into forbearance (mortgage, credit card, etc.), credit reporting must report such account as “current”

  • Establishment of Treasury Exchange Stabilization Fund with upto $454 Billion to provide loans and other investments for businesses that aren’t otherwise eligible/covered under other provisions of the CARES act.

    General Requirements
    1. No other reasonably available alternative financing exists

    2. These will be short term loans, not to exceed 5 years

    3. Limitaions on the Borrowers
      • Business
        • Cannot do stock buybacks or pay dividends for one year or until loan paid off
        • Cannot pay anyone more than $425,000 per year for at least one year or until loan paid off

      • Must retain at least 90% of employees

      • For any employee earning over for anyone making over $425,000

      • CEO’s making over $3 million last year are capped at $3M plus 50% of their >$3M earnings from last year

Back to Top


On March 18, 2020, the President signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The act is aimed at helping employees during the declared national emergency. Over the next several days, the Department of Labor will unveil more information on the Act, but here are the primary points of interest.

  • This act applies to all employees, who can take paid leave for the following reasons:
    • Sick Leave
      1. Quarantined by Hospital, State or Local Health Department(s) or Federal Agency/
      2. Employee advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine.
      3. Employee is experiencing symptoms and seeking medical diagnosis.

    • Care Leave
      1. Caring for quarantined patient.
      2. Caring for child whose school/place of care has closed.
      3. Other scenarios that the Federal Government may come up with.

  • Leave can be taken for (in addition to any benefits leave available):
    1. Full time employees up to 14 days (80 hours)
    2. Part time employees is an average of hours worked for 2-week period.

  • Payment shall be based on the following:
    • Full Time Employees (those who work 30+ hours)
      • Sick Leave
        1. Salaried – pro rata.
        2. Hourly – avg. of hours worked at rate or minimum wage (whichever is higher).
      • Care Leave is at 2/3 rate or minimum wage (whichever is greater).

    • Part Time Employees, are either:
      1. Avg. of hours worked over 6-month period; or
      2. The reasonable expectation of the employee at the time of hiring of the average number of hours per day.

  • There are caps as to payments:
    1. Sick Leave is capped at $511 per day, $5,110 in the aggregate.
    2. Care Leave is capped at $200 per day, $2,000 in the aggregate.

  • Tax Credits are available for both employer and employee for leave under this Act.

  • Additional 10-day unpaid leave can be taken by employee.

  • If an employee takes leave under this Act, you may not terminate or order them to find a replacement for their shift.

  • By March 25, 2020 you must give Notice to your employees of this Act (Department of Labor will send out how template).

  • Penalties for Violations will be prosecuted under the FLSA:
    1. Failure to pay wages/sick leave
    2. Wrongful termination

The other parts of the act that address emergency funding for state unemployment and medical release of funds. For full read of the Act, click here.

Back to Top


While the majority of the current COVID relief is geared to traditional employers, there are still programs geared to help independent contractors you need to know about. These apply to both sole proprietor-type operations and firms which may employ some W-2 employees but mostly employ independent contractors, like yacht brokers. Here is our current overview on what relief is available for these types of operations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sole Proprietors

For independent contractors who operate as a sole proprietorship or single-member LLC, the following relief is still available, even if you do not have W-2 employees:

  • SBA Emergency Injury Disaster Loans. These SBA Disaster loans provide you with low-interest loans up to $2 million, with repayment terms determined by your ability to repay the loan.

  • Payroll Protection Program (PPP) Forgivable Loan. These are the new federal loans which are most prominent in the news. Independent contractors can borrow their average monthly 2019 payroll, and this loan is 100% forgiven to the extent it is used for payroll, rent, and utilities in the 8 weeks following the loan origination. These PPP loans anticipated rollout for independent contractors and self-employed individuals is expected April 10th. Most importantly, the benchmark for payroll is reduced to $100,000; so if you made more than $100,000 last year, the loan forgiveness benefits only apply as if you were making $100,000.

Yacht Brokers and Independent Contractor-Oriented Businesses

Many yacht brokerages, home improvement companies and similar firms operate as a mix of W-2 employees and independent contractors. To the extent these operations employ W-2 employees they can take advantage of some additional relief. As far as we can tell at this moment, the PPP loans for businesses which employ independent contractors – like yacht brokerages – are not going to be covered, as they are allowed to apply by themselves. These will be state specific. For full list with explantion of the prgrams please click here.

  • Others States will be updated as we find out more.

Back to Top


The State of Maryland has taken steps to minimize the impact of COVID-19 across our state, including ordering state employees to telework, closing public schools, closing casinos and racetracks, and activating the National Guard so it is ready to carry out any emergency functions that may be needed. State agencies including the Department of Commerce remain prepared to serve clients in the business community.

On March 30, 2020, by Governor's order, the following events are hereby prohibited until the lifting of the state of emergency:

  • Any gathering over 50 People is hereby prohibited for social, community, recreational, leisure, and sports gatherings.

  • Planned large events

  • All senior citizen activities centers

  • Any business not specifically authorized to open by September 1, 2020 Order

  • Any business orderdered by County or Local authorities

September 1, 2020 Safe At Home Order - Phase Three Opening

By September 1, 2020 Order, Maryland is to innitiate Phase Three reopening certain activities. Governor's office still advises at risk individuals to reamin at home and that persons should take all necessary precautions. On September 4, 2020, all counties in Maryland will be in Stage Three.

Face Mask Order is still in Effect.

The order goes into effect on September 4, 2020 at 5:00 pm.

  • Retail establishment (inlcuding those within enclosed malls) and Religious facilities are allowed to open, but they cannot exceed more than 75% of the facility’s maximum occupancy.

  • Personal services establishments, such as beauty salons and barber shops, subject to the following restrictions:
    • All patrons that are over the age of two (2) are required to wear a facemask or other face covering. Patrons may remove their face mask temporarily if wearing the mask would make it impossible for the personal service to be performed
    • All staff of personal services establishments are required to wear face coverings
    • Personal services are to be provided on an appointment basis only—no walk-ins are allowed
    • The number of persons in the personal services establishment are not to exceed 50% of the facility’s maximum occupancy
    • The area in which the personal services were provided must be cleaned and disinfected in accordance with CDC and MDH guidelines after services are provided to each customer

  • Outdoor Recreation (open as of May 29, 2020)
    • Golf courses and driving ranges
    • Outdoor archery and shooting ranges
    • Marinas and watercraft rental facilities
    • Campgrounds
    • Horse boarding and riding facilities
    • Restaurants/clubs for outdoor seating only
    • Limited Athletic Activity
    • Swimming Pools
    • Outdoor Summer Camps

  • Other Recreation Activities (open as of September 4, 2020)

  • Facemask and Social Distancing

  • On April, 15, 2020, by Governor's order has ordered that all Marylanders wear a facevovering when engaged in certain activities. Thought the activities in the order are limited, CDC suggests wearing a facecovering when you are in public.

    The order goes into effect on April 18, 2020 at 7:00 am.

    • “Face Covering” means a covering that fully covers a person’s nose and mouth, but is not a Medical-Grade Mask. The term “Face Covering” includes, without limitation, scarves and bandanas.

    • “Foodservice Establishments” means establishments in the State of Maryland that sell food on a delivery, carry-out, or drive-through basis.

    • “Medical-Grade Mask” means an N95, KN95, surgical, or other mask that would be appropriate for a health care setting.

    • “Public Transportation” means shared-ride surface transportation services that are open to the general public, including without limitation, taxi services, ride-sharing services (Uber/Lyft/etc.), car services, and transit services provided by any other unit of the State or any political subdivision.

    • “Retail Establishments” means retail businesses, organizations, establishments, and facilities in the State of Maryland, including without limitation:

      • Grocery stores, convenience stores, farmer’s markets, and any other establishment engaged in the retail sale of non-prepared food

      • Pharmacies and other stores that sell medication or medical supplies

      • Stores that sell supplies for household consumption or use, and/or products needed to maintain safety, sanitation, and essential maintenance of the home or residence

      • Alcoholic beverage stores

      • Laundromats

      Use of Face Coverings:
      • All riders and operators on any Public Transportation are required to wear Face Coverings (excluding any operator in a separate compartment that is off-limits to riders)

      • All customers over the age of nine are required to wear Face Coverings while inside the enclosed area of any Retail Establishment or Foodservice Establishment

      • Adult customers accompanying children age two through nine shall use reasonable efforts to cause those children to wear Face Coverings while inside the enclosed area of any Retail Establishment or Foodservice Establishment

      • All Retail Establishments shall require staff to wear, and those staff shall wear, Face Coverings while working in areas open to the general public and areas in which interactions with other staff are likely

      • All Foodservice Establishments shall require staff who interact with customers (including, without limitation, delivery personnel) to wear, and those staff shall wear, Face Coverings while working

    • Single-use Face Coverings shall be properly discarded in trash receptacles

    • It is recommended that all reusable Face Coverings be cleaned frequently (at least once per day)

    • All Marylanders are urged to reserve Medical-Grade Masks for use by health care workers and first responders

    • All Retail Establishments shall, in good faith and to the extent possible:

      • Where any queue is expected to form, designated with signage, tape, or by other means at least six-foot spacing for persons in line

      • Sanitize, or provide customers with a means to sanitize, handles of carts and baskets that are available to customers

      • Provide staff and customers with clean restrooms stocked with soap or sanitizer, and allow staff to wash their hands at least once every 30 minutes

      • Post signage at each entrance advising customers about the requirement to wear Face Coverings

  • Essential Business

    • If you are a business that is an Essential Business mentioned in the executive orders regarding business closures, you are still permitted to operate

    • Clients are allowed on your premises, but are limited to 50% capacity

    • Your employees are allowed to travel from home to your business. A letter is recommended from the employer, in case they are stopped.

    • Telecomute if Possible

    • You are required to follow health protocols such as social distancing.

    • If you remain open, it is critical that you do everything in your power to prevent groups of 10 or more people from congregating in one area. The governor’s office recommends:

      • Please use your best judgement and consider the possible impact on your employees if you stay open. Public utility, such as the need to provide essential supplies, must be balanced with the need to preserve public health.

      • The Governor's Office, Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), and several state agencies are working to identify these essential goods and services provided across multiple industries. CISA Guidance - Essential Business as of March 28, 2020

      • The U.S. Department of Labor has developed some guidelines for how companies can prepare their workplace for COVID-19. In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched a COVID-19 website with information specifically for workers and employers.

    Permitted Activities for Individuals
    • Obtaining necessary supplies or services for one’s self, family, household members, pets, or livestock, including, without limitation: groceries, supplies for household consumption or use, supplies and equipment needed to work from home, laundry, and products needed to maintain safety, sanitation, and essential maintenance of the home or residence

    • Engaging in activities essential for the health and safety of one’s self, family, household members, pets, or livestock, including such things as seeking medical or behavior health or emergency services, and obtaining medication or medical supplies

    • Caring for a family member, friend, pet, or livestock in another household or location, including, without limitation, transporting a family member, friend, pet, or livestock animal for essential health and safety activities, and to obtain necessary supplies and services

    • Traveling to and from an educational institution for purposes of receiving meals or instructional materials for distance learning

    • Engaging in outdoor exercise activities, such as walking, hiking, running, or biking, but only in compliance with paragraph III below and applicable social distancing guidance published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) and the Maryland Department of Health (“MDH”)

Marinas and Vessel Facilities

  • Certain marinas and vessel facilities may remain open.

  • Recreational boating is allowed. Social distancing rules promulgated by the CDC and MDH must be followed.

  • Moving your boat home or to a boat slip is permissible.

  • Some recreational operations at the marinas may open in compliance with Stage One guidelines.

  • Live aboard persons are allowed access to their vessels.

  • Companies which supply parts, or provide maintenance and repair services for marine vessels and/or automobiles do not need to close under the order, but must maintain other required health and safety measures – i.e., no congregations of ten or more people.

  • Marinas can allow clients access to boats for recreational operations. Until further notice, masks must be worn when interacting with clients if within 6 feet. You should advise your clients that they need to bring masks to your facilities, even if outside. for more info, please see DNR FAQ.

  • Comply with the April 15, 2020 social distancing guidlines issued by the governors office, specifically about sanitation and employee activities.

  • Face Cover Order:
    • Place signage requiring all visitors to wear a face cover
    • Any employee who travels to work using public transportation (including Uber, Lyft, Taxi, etc) must comply with the face cover order
    • Any employee who travels for work related purposes offsite, must wear a face cover

Recreational Vessel Use

Effective Thursday, May 7, 2020 at 7 a.m., recreational boating activities, including motorized and non-motorized vessels and personal watercraft, are permitted, however:

  • No more than 10 people can be on a boat at one time, including captain and crew

  • Boats must be distanced from each other by at least 10 feet and are prohibited from rafting up, beaching, or having rendezvous events

  • Boats are prohibited from docking at restaurants or bars

  • Vessel and boat races are allowed, with restrictions

  • Local jurisdictions may choose to open public boat ramps, but must ensure social distancing guidelines

  • All normal boating rules and regulations are in effect and must be followed

Violation and Enforcement

  • Each law enforcement officer of the State or a political subdivision shall execute and enforce this Order

  • SA person who knowingly and willfully violates this Order is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding $5,000 or both

  • This Order remains effective until after termination of the state of emergency and the proclamation of the catastrophic health emergency has been rescinded, or until rescinded, superseded, amended, or revised by additional orders

  • The effect of any statute, rule, or regulation of an agency of the State or a political subdivision inconsistent with this order is hereby suspended

Public Health Emergency Protection Act

Maryland has enacted the Public Health Emergency Protection Act. In relevant parts the act provides:

  • No Fees or Co-pays for COVID-19 Tests - Ensuring that Marylanders will not be charged fees or co-pays for COVID-19 tests.

  • No Price-Gouging - Prohibits price-gouging for food, fuel, medicine, cleaning products and other essential supplies.

  • Workers Cannot be Terminated - Guarantees that Marylanders cannot be terminated from their jobs because they have been isolated or quarantined.

  • Unemployment Benefits - Will allow the Secretary of Labor to extend unemployment benefits to workers who cannot work because they are quarantined, at risk for exposure, or to care for a family member with COVID-19.

Resources for Business

The Maryland Department of Commerce is offering three new business assistance programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan Fund - This $75 million loan fund offers no interest or principal payments due for the first 12 months, then converts to a 36-month term loan of principal and interest payments, with an interest rate at 2% per annum. AT THIS TIME MARYLAND IS NO LONGER ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR THIS PROGRAM.

  • Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund - This $50 million grant program offers grant amounts up to $10,000, not to exceed 3 months of demonstrated cash operating expenses for the first quarter of 2020. AT THIS TIME MARYLAND IS NO LONGER ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR THIS PROGRAM.

  • Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Manufacturing Fund - This $5 million incentive program helps Maryland manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) that is urgently needed by hospitals and health-care workers across the country. More information coming by Friday, March 27, 2020.

  • If a business experiences a temporary or permanent layoff, Labor’s Division of Unemployment Insurance’s Bulk Claim Services can open unemployment insurance claims for all affected employees. If a business is eligible, they should contact a Claims Representative by emailing

  • According to the Governor’s Executive Order, all licenses, permits, registrations, and other authorizations issued by the state, its agencies or any political subdivision that would expire during the current state of emergency will be extended until at least the 30th day after the state of emergency is lifted.

  • Labor’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (O&P) is temporarily extending license expiration dates until May 1, which is subject to being extended as the response to the coronavirus situation evolves.

  • Maryland Comptroller has extended the deadlines for business related tax fillings until June 1. The extension applies to certain business returns with due dates during the months of March, April and May 2020 for businesses filing sales and use tax, withholding tax, and admissions & amusement tax, as well as alcohol, tobacco and motor fuel excise taxes, tire recycling fee and bay restoration fee returns. Those who have already paid, may request a refund of their payment by emailing or calling (410) 260-4020.

For a list of services that this office can assist you with, click here.

Resources for Employees

The Maryland Department of Labor is now accepting applications for the COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund, which can provide funds to help businesses with 500 or fewer employees purchasing remote access equipment and software to allow employees to work from home, provide on-site cleaning and sanitation services or other creative strategies to mitigate potential layoffs or closures. If you have any questions please email

Orders and Guidelines

Governor Phase 3 Reopening Order
Governor Safe at Home Order
Governor Stay at Home Order
CISA Guidance - Essential Business
Governor Face Cover Order
MD OLC Interpretive Guidance - Essential Business
MD OLC Interpretive Guidance - Supplement
MD OLC Interpretive Guidance - Stay at Home Order

Additional helpful links for COVID-19 FAQs:

The Center for Disease Control

Maryland Department of Health

Departemnt of Labor & OSHA
OSHA Guide for Workplaces for COVID-19

Maryland Bankers Association
Maryland Bankers Association Updates

At this time you need to think of how to best protect the business, the employees and customers. There is no standard, as each business is unique and requires a plan. Please consult an attorney as you develop or implement these plans and questions arise.

Back to Top


On March 30, 2020, Governor has amaneded its standing Executive Order on the COVID 19 Epidemic. Just as in other states, the order is tantamount to a stay at home order. This overview is intended for the operation of marinas, yacht clubs and harbor masters, but is applicable to other similar sitauted businesses. This will allow for business operations, provide safety measures for your staff and ensure that we are all doing as much as we can to prevent the transmission and spread of COVID 19.

Travel Restrictions

Any person coming to Rhode Island from another state for a non-work-related purpose must immediately self-quarantine for 14 days. This quarantine restriction shall not apply to public health, public safety, or healthcare workers.

Further, all Rhode Island residents are required to stay home unless traveling to work, traveling for medical treatment or obtaining necessities (food, medicine, gas, etc.).

Rhode Island residents may still go outside to exercise and get fresh air, however, they must practice social distancing while outside and avoid touching surfaces frequently touched by others

Business Closures

Effective Monday, March 30, 2020, all non-critical retail businesses shall cease in-person operations.

Critical retail businesses include, but are not limited to, food and beverage stores (e.g., supermarkets, liquor, specialty food, and convenience stores, farmers’ markets, food banks and pantries), pharmacies and medical supply stores, compassion centers, pet supply stores, printing shops, mail and delivery stores and operations, gas stations, laundromats, electronics and telecommunications stores, office supply, industrial and agricultural/seafood equipment and supply stores, hardware stores, funeral homes, auto repair and supply, banks and credit unions, firearms stores, healthcare and public safety professional uniform stores, and other stores and businesses identified as critical by the Department of Business Regulation.

Restaurants will be permitted to operate only for pickup, drive-through, and delivery in accordance with previous executive orders.

Marinas and Vessel Facilities

  • Certain marinas and vessel facilities may remain open.

  • In response to the Coronavirus COVID-19 crisis, the State of Rhode Island urges operators of marinas and yacht clubs to adhere to the following parameters to match the health and safety guidance from the CDC:

    • Yards at marinas and yacht clubs should remain secure so that admittance can be monitored by the owners / operators.

    • In the event an owner or other persons wish to work on their vessel, they should be cautioned about social distancing and monitored to ensure no groups form. This is important to protect your employees as well.

    • Limit use of facilities to seasonal slip holders only.

    • Use of facilities by transients and out of state boaters should be prohibited.

  • Any sales at your stores must be curbside pickup only.

  • All client recreational operations at the marinas must stop, e.g. pools, recreational areas, etc.. Food can be sold to go.

  • In the event that a vessel arrives at your facility, they must be provided with the Public Health documents being provided to all out of state travelers. They should also be directed to the RI Department of Health website site to fill out the required information. See attached link you can add to your web pages.

  • Gloves must be worn while pumping out or fueling.

  • Moorings may be installed and serviced per local harbor management plans.

Orders and Guidelines

Decleration of State of Emergency
Governor Stay at Home Order
CISA Guidance - Essential Business

Additional helpful links for COVID-19 FAQs:

The Center for Disease Control

Departemnt of Labor & OSHA
OSHA Guide for Workplaces for COVID-19
RI Business Guidelines During Crisis

At this time you need to think of how to best protect the business, the employees and customers. There is no standard, as each business is unique and requires a plan. Please consult an attorney as you develop or implement these plans and questions arise.

Back to Top


On March 30, 2020, Governor has amaneded its standing Executive Order on the COVID 19 Epidemic. Just as in other states, the order is tantamount to a stay at home order. This overview is intended for the operation of marinas, yacht clubs and harbor masters, but is applicable to other similar sitauted businesses. This will allow for business operations, provide safety measures for your staff and ensure that we are all doing as much as we can to prevent the transmission and spread of COVID 19.

Travel Restrictions

Any person coming to Florida from a state with substantial community spread (those who have declared states of emergency), inclduing by car, for a non-work-related purpose must immediately self-quarantine for 14 days. This quarantine restriction shall not apply to public health, public safety, or healthcare workers.

All persons in Florida shall limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities.

We are monitoring the various local orders to best analyze the situation as it effects business operations. We will update this section as we find out more

Orders and Guidelines

Governor Stay at Home Order
Additional Requirements for Travel into Florida
CISA Guidance - Essential Business

Additional helpful links for COVID-19 FAQs:

The Center for Disease Control

Florida COVID 19
Florida Department of Health
Florida Division of Emeregency Management

Departemnt of Labor & OSHA
OSHA Guide for Workplaces for COVID-19

At this time you need to think of how to best protect the business, the employees and customers. There is no standard, as each business is unique and requires a plan. Please consult an attorney as you develop or implement these plans and questions arise.

Back to Top


A force majeure clause, also known as the Act of God clause, is found in some contracts. The clause is designed to suspend performance under a contract until or to end the contract outright (generally without any penalties to the parties). This is different then the contractual defense of impossibility (which is a defense to a breach of contract, while a force majeure clause is a contractual term).

There are may clauses out there, and some may or may not cover an epidemic. Right now, the US and the State of Maryland have declared a medical state of emergency. There are no government mandated shutdowns. Which means, that depending on the langue of the force majeure clause, the contract may or may not be suspended.

If you have a force majeure clause, this works in your favor and against you. If there is a force majeure clause with a customer, depending on the clause, the contract maybe voided and you would have to issue refunds. However, the same is true for any contracts you may have with your vendors.

If your business relies on a third-party vendor to complete contracts (like inventory, supplies, etc.), and vendor shuts down, then you have the defense of impossibility to your contract with your customer.

Most loan agreements have a force majeure clause, but its in favor of the Lender, thus you are still liable to make your monthly payments. This particular statement depends upon the government decrees in place at the moment as some states are mandating that payments are not required on some types of notes.

Again, this is a general overview and is very fact intensive. If you have a force majeure clause in your contracts, either with customers or vendors, please contact us to review.

Back to Top


Recently we have been following some alarming news that there are persons who are trying to profit of this situation. The states will go after the price gougers, but we want to bring your attention to those who are going to be soliciting “assistance” programs or your services. There are already reports of over $2 million dollars of damages. The golden rule if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

The general model is to engage you on a legitimate website or by email. Once you engage in communications, they will either offer money upfront (even as far as sending you a check) or ask you to go to a private chat server (like Google hangouts, WhatsApp, etc.). The check scam is the most dangerous at this time, as it works as follows:

  • Scammer sends you a check from a legitimate bank.
  • You cash the check.
  • In a day or so, they tell you they made a mistake and that you need to wire them the difference.
  • Several months later, the original cashed check is retuned to your bank as disputed/fake/etc. and your bank debits your full account for the deposited check amount.
  • There is very little recourse, if any, available to you.

Please do not sign anything without consulting an attorney regarding any documents. If you are contacted by such individuals, simply ignore them. If you are victim, please contact the authorities immediately.

Remember, if you are sending any wires, make sure you use a two-step verification
in writing and by voice.

Back to Top


If you have an FHA-insured, USDA, and VA loans, and loans owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, you may be eligible for mortgage assistance. These maybe in addition to the help provided by your bank or lender. You must act now and contact your provider if you are not able to make a payment as result of COVID-19.

The CARES Act prohibits foreclosures on all federally-backed mortgages for 60 days, and provides up to 180 days of forbearance for borrowers (on federally-backed mortgages) who have “experienced a financial hardship related to the COVID-19 emergency.

Back to Top


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Chesapeake Bay Magazine - MD Stay At Home Order - March 31, 2020

Back to Top

As America braces for living under COVID-19, there will be more information coming as to relief programs and regulations that impact everyday businesses. As we find out more information, we will be updating our website with the most up to date information that we know.

If you have any questions, please contact our office as you and we are in this together.

Back to Home Page Back to Maritime Law Articles Back to News