COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — South Carolina could be next to join a growing list of states across the country that have enacted some form of COVID-19 liability protection, but is it needed?
Supporters of the bill said this will give businesses and nonprofits across the state the confidence to open and keep their doors open. The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce said this would provide clarity as businesses continue to navigate the pandemic.
More than a dozen states have taken steps to create COVID-19 liability shields for businesses.
Right now, the Senate Judiciary Committee is considering a bill that would establish a safe harbor from COVID-19 related claims for businesses, government entities, health care facilities and their employees. These protections would apply only if they follow guidance from OSHA and DHEC.
Senator Shane Massey (R-District 25) said this bill would not protect bad actors, “If you play by the rules and you open up — but somebody gets sick – you won’t be sued because of it. This just gives businesses a level confidence and assurance they can operate and employ people and we can keep them working.”
Sen. Massey said there is bipartisan support for the bill. He hopes the committee votes on the bill soon. “I think it’s important we get it out,” he said.
Richards McCrae with the South Carolina Association of Justice told lawmakers they don’t believe a bill like this is necessary. He said, “There’s no data to suggest that the proposed bill would actually help any businesses fully reopen that are not reopened. This bill, as we see it, is a solution searching for a problem. A problem that does not exist.”
According to McCrae, about 30 COVID-19 related lawsuits have been filed in South Carolina since March 2020. He said only one of those lawsuits would be impacted by the bill.
The bill is currently in committee.