RI business owner not accepting cash due to coronavirus, but the law says otherwise

PROVIDENCE, RI (WLNE) – Rhode Island businesses have been doing everything they can to survive the strict social distancing guidelines, while also trying to protect the health of their employees during the pandemic. But one restaurant owner is taking it a step farther by not accepting cash payments.

The problem with that is Gov. Raimondo signed a bill into law last year that says that all Rhode Island businesses must accept cash as payment unless the transaction is done online.

This restaurant owner wanted to remain anonymous to protect his business and is referred to as David.

He said it’s inconvenient for himself and his customers, especially since new guidelines are forcing him to do take-out only.

But he said it’s the best way to keep everyone healthy.

“We stopped people going into the restaurant. So to me, it just made sense to not bring something into the restaurant that possibly could contain the virus,” David said. “Before this, all started it was 60/40 cash, credit, so it’s not too bad for us.”

David wasn’t aware of the law that forbids him from doing that, but even after he found out, he was sticking to his guns.

“Most businesses want what everyone wants; to keep them safe,” he said. “If you’re putting all these regulations and all these things to keep us safe, then how are you forcing us to touch something that is already dirty as it is.”

He believes because of the current health circumstances, exceptions should be made in the meantime.

“If you’re making me wear a mask at work, I should be allowed to not have to accept cash. I think that’s the least they can do for me,” David said.

But one thing he is allowing is for his employees to accept cash tips from customers.

“I’m not going to take money out of my employees’ pockets.”

David has been watching the state’s response to the pandemic and he said for the foreseeable future, he will continue the policy until Gov. Raimondo gives Rhode Island a clean bill of health.

“If she says everything’s good to go back to normal, then we’ll go back to normal,” he said.

A spokesperson with the Attorney General’s Office released the following statement in regards to businesses not accepting cash during the pandemic:

“The statute is very clear that Rhode Island businesses must accept cash for in-person transactions. There are no exceptions.  Any business that is not accepting cash for in-person transactions is in violation of our state’s consumer protection act and may be subject to legal action by our office or private individuals.”

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Regional News, Rhode Island