NCC on Tuesday joined a broad group of food and agriculture organizations in a letter to Congressional leadership expressing support for two bills that would provide liability protection to essential businesses that have operated under federal standards and guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The associations signed onto this letter urge you to address the issue of liability during the pandemic in the next piece of COVID-19 relief legislation,” the letter reads. “While navigating often vague and evolving health and safety guidelines, businesses continue to make substantial investments to protect individuals from exposure by implementing unprecedented virus mitigation protocols, such as enhanced cleaning and sanitation practices as well as social distancing measures. It is only appropriate that Congress should protect these companies from claims of virus exposure beginning from the time when this crisis first hit the nation.”

The letter expresses support for including two bills in the next piece of COVID-19-related legislation: the Safe to Work Act (S. 4317) sponsored by Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and John Cornyn (R-TX) and the Get America Back to Work Act (H.R. 7428) sponsored by Reps. Garret Graves (R-LA) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX).

These bills provide protection to businesses deemed essential by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) from tort lawsuits related to COVID-19 exposure and response. The bills do not grant liability protection the businesses that willfully ignored the risks of the spread of COVID-19 and committed gross negligence. Rather, businesses that made reasonable, good faith efforts to continue operating in a way that was safe for their communities would be granted protection from such claims.