Restaurant, travel, retail industries call for liability shield for businesses

Industry groups that represent restaurants, retail, travel, tourism, hotels and other businesses are calling for Congress to provide a liability shield for businesses once the economy reopens. 

The groups, including the U.S. Travel Association, the National Restaurant Association, the National Retail Federation, the American Hotel and Lodging Association, Airlines for America and the American Gaming Association, sent a letter to congressional leadership on Monday urging liability protections in the next coronavirus relief bill. 

“As you know, even with extraordinary protective measure, our employees or customers could still contract COVID-19 due to the extremely contagious nature of the virus. We fear that without Congressional action, the threat of litigation — even for those companies that faithfully follow federal public guidelines — will mire our recovery and negatively impact the economy writ large,” the groups wrote.

They added, “companies that diligently implement safety protocols and rely in good faith on public health recommendations and guidelines nonetheless face the prospect of substantial litigation based on virus transmission.” 

The business community has been pressuring the White House and Congress to include liability protections for essential and nonessential industries in another round of coronavirus relief aid. 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the powerful pro-business lobby, has been the most vocal on behalf of businesses, and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has called for protections on behalf of essential businesses that have been kept open during the pandemic. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the GOP-controlled Senate won’t pass a bill providing more assistance to state and local governments, an issue Democrats are pushing, if it doesn’t include legal protections.

The Home Care Association of America, International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, International Franchise Association and Retail Industry Leaders Association, as well as several other groups, also signed on to the letter.

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