Chamber Urges Businesses to “Mask Up” or Risk COVID Liability Lawsuits

men putting food on a thermal bag

“Flagler businesses should require employees to wear masks in public indoors settings, for now”

Because of recent CDC COVID-19 recommendations urging vaccinated people to use a mask when in “public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission,” the Palm Coast-Flagler Regional Chamber of Commerce is urging all businesses in Flagler County to require employees working in “public indoor settings,” to wear a mask or face possible lawsuits.

Here’s what business leaders need to know and what one legal expert has to say:

  • The Chamber will host a special Zoom conference call for businesses that have more questions on Wednesday, August 4, 2021, at 4 p.m. Media is welcome to attend, here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82008984803?pwd=dW5QdUV4dkhtOU43RVBUUzdjUzN1UT09
  • During the 2021 Florida Legislative Session, the Chamber successfully advocated for the passage of Senate Bill 72, also known as the COVID Liability Bill.
  • This legislation, signed by the Governor on March 29, 2021, shields businesses from COVID liability lawsuits, if the business “…made a good faith effort to substantially comply with authoritative or controlling government-issued health standards or guidance.”
  • Josh Woolsey, recognized as Florida Trend Magazine’s “Legal Elite” and Founding Partner with Woolsey/Morcomm law firm said,
    • “This new law has not had sufficient time to play out in the court system to see how judges are applying the law. For example, what constitutes a ‘good faith effort?’ Businesses, especially those where employees interact in ‘public indoor settings,’ should do their best and document their efforts to comply with the government-issued health standards.
  • Chamber President & CEO Greg Blosé said,
    • “Because Flagler County is currently an ‘area of substantial or high transmission,’ and because the CDC’s new recommendations create a legal gray area for local businesses, the Chamber recommends all businesses that interact with the public indoors require their employees to wear masks or risk a lawsuit.”
  • When can masks come off?
    • Blosé said, “Until Flagler County’s COVID-19 Community Level of Transmission declines to the moderate level, or the CDC changes its recommendations, the Chamber believes it is best for businesses to err on the side of caution to avoid potential litigation. This includes:
      • Requiring employees who work indoors in a publicly accessible setting to wear masks, and
      • Documenting the steps your business is taking to follow the CDC’s recommendations.
    • By taking these steps, the Chamber firmly believes businesses will be shielded from liability by the new COVID Liability Bill (SB 72).”

Business leaders are invited to read the bill to make their own determination:

https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2021/72/BillText/er/PDF

For more information, contact Greg Blosé, President and CEO of the Palm Coast-Flagler Regional Chamber, at 386-846-1864 or via email at Greg@PalmCoastFlaglerRegionalChamber.com.

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