NCC on Monday joined a broad coalition of food and agriculture groups in a letter expressing support for a House bill that would provide liability protection to essential businesses that have operated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill, known as The Get America Back to Work Act of 2020 (H.R. 7528), is sponsored by Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX).

The bill would create a legal safe harbor for any person acting in good faith to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from frivolous lawsuits. This protection would apply to individuals, business trusts, legal representatives, corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, joint stock companies, nonprofits, religious organizations, or any organized group of persons. Such safe harbor provisions would not apply in the case of willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or a conscious flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the individual harmed by the business.

The bill’s safe harbor provisions would be effective from Jan. 1, 2020 to 18 months after the end of the emergency declaration.

Additionally, the bill codifies the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) current practice of not issuing citations or related penalties for potential safety violations related to the possible transmission of COVID-19 to any employer acting in good faith to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

“Businesses that made reasonable, good faith efforts to comply with government guidance, however, should be shielded from liability,” the letter read. “Despite ever-changing health guidelines, these companies invested significant amounts of energy and resources to implement virus mitigation protocols. It was not easy, but they did so in order to ensure they could serve the American people during this crisis. Congress should protect these essential businesses from claims of virus exposure.”

The full letter can be found here. H.R. 7528 can be found here.