COVID Pandemic Legislation: The List of Signed Bills Aimed to Protect Businesses This Year

COVID Pandemic Legislation: The List of Signed Bills Aimed to Protect Businesses This Year

COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in one way or another. Sadly, for most businesses, 2020 has been a year of losses, mass lay-offs, and, in the most extreme cases, shutting down.

With half of the world’s population and the majority of the American population in lockdown, there have not been many opportunities for business owners to make money unless they are grocery stores or eCommerce giants.

Sure, delivery was still a thing even during the months of the most severe lockdown from mid-March to mid-May, but not all businesses sell something that can be delivered. The entertainment industry (including movies, concert venues, clubs, and casinos) and the beauty industry have been among those hit the hardest.

While the government’s response to the pandemic is a controversial topic, several bills have been signed this year to protect businesses from complete bankruptcy and unpayable debts. For many American business owners, they have offered the only salvation and a chance to get by until the end of the lockdown. Here is a short list of the most important among them.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)

Sure, most Americans know the CARES Act as the document that created the stimulus program and resulted in the stimulus checks that every citizen received. However, this is not the only thing to know about the CARES Act. Signed on March 27, 2020, the bill also created the Paycheck Protection Program that gives loans to business owners, including both small businesses and large corporations (the size of the loans depends on the size of the business). The CARES Act is the largest economic stimulus in the history of the United States. While nowhere near big enough, it has still been of great help to Americans.

Tax Relief

Several states have also supported local business owners with tax relief and small changes to the nationwide lockdown. In particular, Atlantic City’s mayor Marty Small signed a six-month executive order to allow limited outdoor drinking in selected places even when it was not allowed in most states. Also, legislators signed two bills, A4032/S2400 and A4002/S2257, that reduced casinos’ taxes and provide a tax credit on sports betting revenue.

These documents are incredibly timely, seeing as the gambling industry is among those affected by the lockdown the most. The new bills give Atlantic City casinos a chance to survive unless the second pandemic wave shuts their doors again.

Employee Lawsuit Protection

On October 22, 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer (Michigan) signed into law a new bill that protects business owners and institutions from virus-related-lawsuits. The bill ensures that if a business owner follows all safety protocols, an employee who contracts coronavirus cannot sue their employer. This decision has been a reaction to a growing number of lawsuits filed by employees blaming employers for getting infected.

Jeff Brandes, a member of the Florida Senate, initiated a similar bill back in spring, but, in the end, it was not signed. Perhaps, Gov. Whitmer’s success will prompt legislators to reconsider.

The Business Damage Assessment – Florida State Resources

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity asks business owners to complete the Business Damage Assessment survey to collect data about the extent to which Floridian businesses have suffered from the pandemic. Reportedly, the results of the survey will be used as rationale for decision-making and can potentially affect legislation. Possibly, the state will decide to help business owners across Florida with additional stimulus aside from tax relief. In any case, filling it in does not take long and can at least keep the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity informed.

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