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CEO DATELINE – Business groups urge Congress to enact COVID-19 liability protections

Aug. 3, 2020
By Walt Williams

Hundreds of associations are urging members of Congress to include protections against lawsuits for doing business during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that failing to do so will stall efforts to reboot the economy.

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In a July 30 letter, the organizations throw their support behind temporary liability protections outlined in the Safe to Work Act, which is currently before the Senate. Without the protections, “COVID-19-related lawsuits and their consequent exorbitant legal costs could deter entities from reopening and could ultimately cripple businesses, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations both large and small.”

“It is impossible to understate what an enormous mistake it would be to exclude temporary liability protections from the next coronavirus relief package,” Neil Bradley, the Chamber’s chief policy officer, said in a statement. “The entire business community, universities and colleges, and local school boards across the country are all united in support for a liability safe harbor for those who adhere to public health guidelines.”

Republicans have pushed to include liability protections in the next round of economic stimulus funding but Democrats have balked at the proposal, saying such a move would shield companies from knowingly placing employees into dangerous working conditions.