McInnis: Liability Protection Essential to COVID Relief

By: Clay McInnis

Before Congress heads out for August recess, members of Congress must pass the next round of coronavirus relief. As American families are struggling to make ends meet, there are a host of issues that need to be addressed. For Alabama businesses, reasonable liability protections from coronavirus-related lawsuits will be key to help protect small businesses and aid in our economic recovery.

Small business owners across the state have faced unprecedented challenges during this crisis. From the uncertainty regarding shutdown orders and trying to protect the jobs of their employees, to spending time and resources to ensure that they put safety precautions in place to protect customers.

Now, besides facing uncertainty regarding whether they will stay open, and what the economy will look like over the next few months, businesses may face coronavirus-related lawsuits, particularly if they are essential businesses that have stayed open throughout the pandemic.

The cost of fighting unwarranted coronavirus-related lawsuits, particularly for small businesses, would be devastating and many could not withstand the financial burden. Given that the virus has reached “community spread,” it would be exceedingly difficult for anyone to prove where someone contracted the virus, and also prove that they did not contract it in a specific business.

Thankfully, small businesses can be provided a lifeline if Congress passes reasonable liability protections for coronavirus-related lawsuits. We should not extend these protections to businesses that behaved negligently, but should for businesses that have taken the precautions necessary to protect the safety of their employees and customers. Hopefully Senator Doug Jones will stand up for small businesses and join his colleagues in supporting much-needed liability protections.

Clay McInnis represents the 7th district on the Montgomery City council.

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