Liability concerns keeping many SC businesses from reopening

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COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – State lawmakers and business leaders are still working together to get the state fully reopened, but there are some issues in the way besides the lingering health crisis. Business owners are also worried about a legal crisis if they open too soon.

Many businesses in South Carolina have been given the green light to reopen after being closed for weeks, but for several industries, how to reopen is still unclear.

“Coming at the end of July, whether we want to or not we have a crisis on our hands. If we don’t get people back to work,” SC Chamber of Commerce CEO, Ted Pitts, told a special group of lawmakers at a meeting on Tuesday.

But getting people back to work and businesses reopened isn’t that easy. ​

Pitts continued, “The way you get people back to work is to give employers some certainty.”​

The COVID-19 Liability Protection Review Committee started those conversations what that certainty looks like.

“The clarity for business, more than anything, is give us a clear standard. So we know what it is we have to comply with and I think that’s something we can do, “said Representative Tommy Pope, the chairman of the committee.

The Accelerate SC Task Force developed best practices for business to use while reopening. The liability committee will now work to clarify those guidelines even further and put them in the books.

Sara Hazzard with the SC Manufacturers Alliance also spoke with lawmakers Tuesday. The alliance is hoping for protections on businesses in general, but also for those businesses that have recently changed gears to meet a need in the COVID-19 crisis.

“The safe harbor we want should start at the beginning of the pandemic and end at the end of the pandemic.”

Lawmakers are essentially working to create a bill that gives businesses immunity from certain cases by creating guidelines that businesses must meet or have met at the time of the lawsuit.

Ted Pitts added why this would gives businesses the confidence to reopen. “The clarity that if i do these things and follow the rules, I’m not going to get sued. That my attorney will be able to talk to their attorney and say you have no grounds for a suit. “​

According to information presented at the meeting, at least 16 lawsuits have been filed in the state related to covid-19 and the state’s response.

Some of those lawsuits deal with wrongful termination, education refunds, and insurance disputes, less than a handful deal with medical and health.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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