SC small business owners push for liability protection amid COVID-19 pandemic

Updated: May. 18, 2020 at 7:15 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - According to the state’s chapter of the National Federation on Independent Business, 96% of businesses in South Carolina are considered small businesses.

State Director Ben Homeyer spoke to the House Small Business Regulatory Relief Committee Monday afternoon. The panel of lawmakers is exploring what regulatory measures can be done to help small businesses in the state recover from the COVID-19 related shutdown.

Homeyer said, "It's vitally important that government get out of the way." According to Homeyer, a recent survey from the National Federation on Independent Business found that just about 70% of small business owners are concerned about an increase in liability claims because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce said this is something their members are also concerned about. President and CEO Ted Pitts said, "I can tell you no one cares more about their customers employees than a small business owner."

Both the Chamber and Federation are urging lawmakers to take up this issue when they return to Columbia.

According to Pitts, temporary and limited immunity from liability would protect a business from a person alleging exposure to COVID-19 if it followed public health guidance at the time.

Pitts said, "This is not something to protect bad actors. This is something small businesses are looking for."

The Chamber said they are also asking the House to pass an E-Notarization bill. That same bill has already been passed by Senators. Pitts said it would make it easier for small businesses to do financial transactions in the age of social distancing.

The committee said they would consider these suggestions and come up with a plan together next week to present to the General Assembly.

According to the Chamber, at least 9 other states have passed a liability protection bill.

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