facebook linkedin twitter

South Carolina Governor Signs Bill to Protect Small Businesses

June 29, 2021 by Ansley Puckett
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington. (Photo by Dan McCue)

COLUMBIA, S.C.- South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill on June 24 that protects small businesses from COVID-related lawsuits.  

The South Carolina COVID-19 Liability Safe Harbor Act provides legal immunity to businesses, health care facilities and state agencies that reasonably followed public health guidelines at the time a coronavirus-related claim arose. 

“South Carolina’s businesses and medical professionals stood on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic adapting to ever-changing safety measures to protect their employees, customers, and community,” McMaster said. “As they protected us, it is now time we return the favor and protect them from frivolous lawsuits brought on by COVID-19.” 

In April, McMaster wrote a letter urging the General Assembly to pass the bill without delay so that he could sign it into law. Currently, around 39 states have adopted some degree of COVID-19 liability protection. 

The act will provide immunity unless there is clear evidence that a business or medical provider caused damage from intentional, negligent or reckless conduct. The immunity covers the start of the declared pandemic on March 13, 2020, and ends 180 days after the final State of Emergency on Dec. 3. 

Small business owners like Nikki O’Connell, who owns Stingray Boats in Hartsville, S.C., are pleased that the bill will protect the state’s small businesses. 

“I think it’s great what he’s doing to protect small businesses,” O’Connell said. “Those kinds of protections are keeping businesses open when they might otherwise need to close just for liability sake.” 

Although O’Connell’s business mostly deals with manufacturing, the business owner said it’s especially important for retailers to have protections against coronavirus-related lawsuits. 

“There is always an inherent liability in operating a business, and the spread of COVID-19 has become something that is prohibiting businesses from being able to operate,” she said. “So, keeping the doors open and keeping folks at work is exceptionally important to every small business but especially retail businesses where they have to invite the general public in just to be able to operate.”  

According to a statement from Ben Homeyer, the South Carolina state director of The National Federation of Independent Business, the cost of defending itself against an “unwarranted claim” could be enough to close a small business.  

South Carolina’s small businesses are tough and determined, and they did everything they could to keep the doors open and protect the welfare of their customers and employees during the pandemic, but owners are worried that trial lawyers will try to exploit the pandemic for financial gain,” Homeyer said.  

Shannon Strickland, who owns Strickland Heating and Air with her husband in Eutawville, S.C., said their business took every measure to protect clients against COVID-19 and is glad the South Carolina COVID-19 Liability Safe Harbor Act will protect other businesses that did the same.  

“I think it’s a great step to help protect those that have continued working through the whole pandemic, that haven’t stopped,” Strickland said. “People have to make money to survive, and with a lot of businesses that have shut down, they weren’t able to make up their livelihood, which is sad. Now that some restrictions are easing, if not completely going away, they can get back to what they do best.”  

In The News

Health

Voting

In The States

August 5, 2021
by Daniel Mollenkamp
More Than A Third Of Californians In or Near Poverty, Report Says

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A recent report says that more than a third of Californians are living below or near the... Read More

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A recent report says that more than a third of Californians are living below or near the poverty line, according to the latest available data. Without social safety net programs, the report further says, that figure would have been much higher.  California, the... Read More

Fire Engulfs Northern California Town, Leveling Businesses

GREENVILLE, Calif. (AP) — California's largest wildfire has leveled much of the downtown and some surrounding homes in a small... Read More

GREENVILLE, Calif. (AP) — California's largest wildfire has leveled much of the downtown and some surrounding homes in a small Northern California mountain community. The Dixie Fire tore through the Greenville on Wednesday evening, destroying businesses and homes as the sky was cast in an orange... Read More

August 5, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Senators Reveal Huge Financial Losses From US Tech Stolen by Chinese

WASHINGTON -- A Senate committee went public Wednesday with the kind of information about China’s use of U.S. technology that... Read More

WASHINGTON -- A Senate committee went public Wednesday with the kind of information about China’s use of U.S. technology that normally would stay behind the closed doors where clandestine issues are discussed. Select Committee on Intelligence leaders revealed that China’s unauthorized use of technology is costing... Read More

August 5, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck
New Rules Could Take Californiaʼs Pork Supply Offline

The California Farm Confinement Proposition, known as Prop 12, is set to become effective next year and could mean that... Read More

The California Farm Confinement Proposition, known as Prop 12, is set to become effective next year and could mean that pork suppliers lose access to California’s large market. The law will implement space requirements for chickens, calves, and hogs, such as retrofitting buildings, and will also... Read More

August 4, 2021
by Dan McCue
Democrats Assail Filibuster As They Push for Voting Rights Legislation

WASHINGTON -- Nearly a dozen U.S. Senators -- all of them Democrats -- made the short walk from the Capitol... Read More

WASHINGTON -- Nearly a dozen U.S. Senators -- all of them Democrats -- made the short walk from the Capitol to the green near the Robert Taft Memorial on Tuesday to join scores of state legislators in calling for passage of the For the People Act,... Read More

August 4, 2021
by Reece Nations
Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Abbott Order on Transportation Stops

U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone issued a temporary restraining order on Tuesday impeding Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order directing... Read More

U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone issued a temporary restraining order on Tuesday impeding Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order directing state troopers to detain drivers suspected of transporting migrants due to COVID-19 concerns. Abbott issued the order last week, allowing Texas Department of Safety troopers to... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top