STATEMENT: Local Mask Ordinances Highlight Need for Liability Protections for Small Businesses

Date: June 26, 2020

NFIB State Executive Director Bill Herrle issued a statement today in response to local ordinances requiring employees and customers to wear protective masks (a comprehensive list is available on NFIB’s website):

“Over the past several days, local governments from the Panhandle to the Keys have passed ordinances requiring people to wear masks in public to help prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus. This patchwork of local regulations has created confusion and underscored the challenges small businesses face as they struggle to recover from the shutdown. Under many of these ordinances, owners could be held criminally liable if customers don’t follow the rules and wear a mask. We believe draconian rules that arbitrarily punish small business owners are unfair, especially when the owners are doing everything they can to protect their customers and employees and prevent the virus from spreading. 

“Our other concern is that small businesses may be targeted by disingenuous trial lawyers who simply want to exploit the pandemic. When we surveyed our members last month, over two-thirds said increased liability as one of their most urgent concerns related to the recovery.

“The fact of the matter is that the shutdown was devastating to Florida’s small businesses. Owners who follow the rules and do everything they can to protect the safety of their customers and employees should not have to defend themselves against predatory lawsuits when they’re at their most vulnerable. That’s why NFIB is calling on the Florida legislature and Congress to pass measures to prevent frivolous lawsuits related to the coronavirus. Without these protections, more small businesses could end up closing their doors for good.”

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