MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Senate on Thursday swiftly approved legislation that would provide businesses and others protection from liability in coronavirus-related lawsuits, provided the entities were taking precautions to limit the spread of the virus.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and GOP lawmakers had named the bill a priority for the first two weeks of the session. The bill passed without debate on a 27-1 vote. It now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives.
The bill by Republican Sen. Arthur Orr could provide immunity for businesses, health care providers and others from certain damages claimed by individuals who allege they contracted or were exposed to the virus.
Orr said Wednesday that the bill would give protection to companies, churches and other entities from virus-related claims only if they were following appropriate precautions.
“A business that chose to ignore that guidance and did not require, say like masks in their workplace or took no steps to try to limit the interaction of their workers being very close together, then they would not have protection in that safe harbor,” Orr said.
Robyn Hyden of Alabama Arise, an advocacy group for low-income people, urged the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to take more steps to protect and help workers.
“Front-line workers deserve access to health care, hazard pay and social support programs if they are unable to work in a high-risk field. Too many workers are being driven into risky working conditions with no alternatives,” Hyden said.