Proposed bill would protect Alaska small businesses from COVID-19 exposure lawsuits

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 7:13 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - When the legislature convenes next week, one of the bills set to be introduced is aiming to provide an extra layer of legal protection to small businesses, according to Rep. DeLena Johnson of Palmer.

Johnson told Alaska’s News Source on Tuesday that the intent of HB 4, if passed, is to provide businesses that have cooperated with state and local mandates with immunity from liability and disciplinary action that might be brought due to exposure to COVID-19

“This would be a hold harmless for that, if they are following guidelines, showing compliance, doing everything they can,” she said. “This is not for negligent people that are scofflaws. This is for people that are doing their best. There really isn’t liability insurance available in this situation, because it’s so new.”

With so many businesses already suffering during the pandemic, Rep. Johnson wants to prevent additional financial trouble resulting from any potential lawsuit related to COVID-19 exposure that might occur on their premises. At this time, the representative says she is unaware of any such lawsuit being filed but wants to be proactive in protecting the businesses that play such an important role in supporting communities across the state.

The bill will not be assigned to any legislative committee until after the House of Representatives gavels in and members finalize their organization structure for the upcoming legislative session.

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