Businesses Seek Protection from Coronavirus Related Liability

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

After more than two months of most states enacting quarantines to stop the spread of the coronavirus, many businesses are eager to return to work. Many states are already relaxing quarantine procedures to try and restart the economy. However, while the virus infection rate has been significantly reduced, it is far from gone, and those businesses fear what might happen if they open back up and employees or customers become ill. In anticipation of this, they are seeking protection from legal liability from coronavirus-related lawsuits.

               The coronavirus is the greatest health crisis that has faced the world in over a century, with more than a million infections and tens of thousands of dead because of the virus. It has taxed America’s medical system to its limit, with doctors, nurses and other medical professionals struggling to keep up with the sheer number of infected. The problem was further exacerbated by a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and other medical supplies.

Quarantine rules helped to slow the spread of the disease, keeping it within manageable levels, but at the cost of keeping many businesses closed for its duration. As a result, they have suffered without income, any many businesses fear they will not be able to reopen at all if they do not reopen soon. The danger, however, is that while the coronavirus is still prevalent, reopening for business endangers customers and employees, potentially opening those businesses up to lawsuits.

As a result, business lobbyists have been advocating for legislation at both the state and federal level that will protect businesses from being sued for coronavirus-related damages. This will allow them to reopen without fear of legal or financial liability for illnesses incurred by their employees or customers. However, labor advocates fear that such a measure will make employees need to choose between coming to work and having no recourse if they get ill and staying away for their own safety and losing their jobs as a result. Legislation addressing this issue is currently in its preliminary stages of debate.