Congressional leadership and White House officials are considering whether to propose liability protection to encourage businesses to reopen without fear of individuals claiming to have contracted the coronavirus at a business location, the Washington Post reported.
NATSO has advocated that businesses that act responsibly throughout this crisis and fulfill their obligations as essential critical infrastructure should not be exposed to class action lawsuits for remaining open and providing critical services during the crisis.
Truckstops and travel plazas were deemed essential and defined as critical infrastructure industry by the Department of Homeland Security. In its guidance, DHS said, “If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.”
Truckstops and travel centers remained open to ensure that the nation’s truck drivers delivering critical relief supplies to hospitals and health care workers and food for grocery store shelves have places to access food, fuel, showers and truck parking.
Truckstops and travel plazas modified their operations, implementing the recommended health and safety guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and other health experts amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The President is urging state Governors to reopen certain parts of the country to stymie the severe economic fall-out from American consumers being forced to stay at home. Although many businesses are eager to reopen, numerous executives reportedly told the White House that they are hesitant, citing potential legal risk.
At present, the legislative path forward on liability protection for business remains unclear. Although the White House could push for its inclusion in the next economic stimulus moved by Congress, liability protection is expected to face opposition by Democrats who think it might allow employers to evade the consequences of unsafe practices.
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