Dear Chamber Members,
Today’s COVID-19 business information compiled by your Greater Sumter Chamber Team includes: SC Chamber Organizes Working Groups to Develop Employer Liability Protection Recommendations, accelerateSC Response Subcommittee Meets for First Time, Last Call for COVID-19 Business Survey, Chamber Community Guide
Legal Working Groups: The SC Chamber is coordinating with the SC Manufacturers Alliance, the SC Retailers Association, the SC Hospital Association, and the SC Medical Association on developing a list of actions and legislative recommendations to limit liability risks related to COVID-19. Members of the SC Chamber’s Legal Committee have identified legal experts within their law firms to draft recommendations and develop best practices for businesses. The attorneys are focused on COVID-19 issues related to workplace safety/OSHA issues, employment liability, premises liability, workers compensation, product liability for manufacturers transitioning to making PPE, and medical and healthcare liability.
In the coming days, SC Chamber will ask Governor McMaster and accelerateSC to consider and act on our recommendations. Some of our recommendations will require legislative action; as such, we will call for the Governor to bring the SC General Assembly into session as soon as it is safe to consider critical COVID-19 legislation to help businesses, including liability protections.
Federal Action: The SC Chamber has communicated our concerns about the high risks of legal liability related to COVID-19 to our federal delegation. We are pleased to see that US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is making this issue a priority in the next coronavirus bill, which we expect will provide additional funding to state and local governments.
“You have to carefully craft the liability protection to deal with the money that would be supplied to state and local governments conditioned upon them enacting at the state level the kind of legislation that would provide liability protection for those that are seeking to go forward and get the economy back to work,” McConnell said.
The Response Subcommittee of the accelerateSC Task Force met for the first time yesterday to discuss many of the COVID-19 issues affecting business and how we start to move the state forward safely and sustainably. The committee’s stated goal is to identify challenges related to workforce capacity, workforce re-entry, critical industries, capital requirements, regulatory issues, and supply chain/logistics. Members include representatives of business associations, private businesses, as well as several government agencies. The full accelerateSC Task Force met for the first time last Thursday.
Items on yesterday’s meeting agenda included (1) safety protocols/reopening guidelines, (2) access to PPE, (3) workforce concerns to cover childcare, recall resistance, persistent unemployment, and online training opportunities.
Discussion of these topics included items that we have heard from our SC Chamber policy committees persistently over the last few days like:
- Establishing best practices and guidelines for businesses to reopen while keeping their employees and customers healthy
- Liability concerns for businesses as they get back to work
- Senator Lindsey Graham noted that Senator Mitch McConnell had made liability issues a priority in the Federal Phase 4 bill
- PPE availability and the possibility of the state purchasing large quantities of PPE
- A working group is being formed that will dig into this
- 52% of certified childcare facilities have voluntarily shut down
- Lou Kennedy, CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals and past chair of the SC Chamber explained how Nephron had created a childcare program for their employees
- Recall resistance
- Director Dan Ellezy re-emphasized that an employee who refuses to return to a job after being offered their job back cannot continue to receive state or federal unemployment benefits
Also, SC Chamber President and CEO Ted Pitts presented preliminary results from the SC Chamber’s acceleratescCOVID19 Business Survey. Read more here.
The next meeting will be next Tuesday, and the Governor said he expected the entire group’s work to be done within 30 days.
The SC Chamber and SC Department of Commerce developed a survey to assist the accelerateSC task force by giving members critically needed data to make important decisions during the next 30 days. We value your input and ask that you please take 5 minutes to answer the survey. It will remain open until Friday, May 1st.
4. Chamber Community Guide
Later today the Chamber will be presenting the “Re-Open Sumter” community guide. This guide is a culmination of feedback we received from our survey results along with other information we have received from our state and federal associations. We encourage everyone to use this guide as a resource to help you and your business safely and effectively open to the public. Some of the information in the guide comes from feedback we have received from the SC Chamber of Commerce, the Carolina’s Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, the US Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives and other partners.
This guide was designed to help our business community, especially small businesses, to incorporate best practices relating to employee and consumer safety. We trust this guide will be valuable over the next several months as we join together to keep pushing our economy forward. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us at 803-775-1231.
These and other resources for businesses are available on our COVID-19 website.
As always, we will keep you up-to-date on any further information as it becomes available. Please feel free to reach out to us at Chris.firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.