Protecting Businesses During a Disaster Declaration
The Pennsylvania House has introduced HB 2384 which would provide essential protections to businesses during a Disaster Declaration. Specifically, HB 2384 would provide immunity from civil and criminal liability and from the imposition of an administrative sanction imposed by a professional or occupational licensing board or commission to a person for engaging in a protected business operation, except when the person causes actual harm.
Actual harm is defined as “a documented injury or illness that is directly and proximately caused by the interaction with the person or the agents of the person.”
Protected business operation is defined as “conducting a business transaction” or “keeping a physical business location open” during a disaster declaration made pursuant to 35 Pa.C.S. §7301(c) or after an order has been issued under the Disease Prevention and Control Law of 1955.
If enacted into law, the Bill would prevent licensed professionals such as doctors, hair stylists, architects, engineers and lawyers from facing discipline for continuing to operate during a disaster declaration.
The House has also introduced HB 2386 which would establish the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency Business Interruption Grant Act. A business would be eligible for a grant if:
- the business submitted an insurance claim under a business interruption insurance policy; and
- the claim was denied before the business applied for the grant; and the business demonstrates that it has been adversely impacted by the COIVD-19 disaster emergency.
The amount of the grant cannot exceed the amount of the insurance claim submitted by the business. Businesses can apply for a grant for the duration of the Disaster Emergency and for 60 days after the disaster emergency is terminated. If a business receives a grant, the business must remain open and not lay off any employees during the Disaster Emergency. If the business does not comply, the grant must be repaid plus ten (10) percent.
If you believe that local businesses provide essential services and benefits to residents and vital tax revenue to municipalities, you may wish to contact your local representative to provide support for either of these pending Bills.
This article is not legal advice and is provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.