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Jimmy Patronis Calls for More COVID-19 Liability Protections for Businesses at Pensacola ‘Rally at the Restaurant’

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“No doubt, unless we take action to protect our small businesses, we’ll see big problems: businesses will close, insurance rates will continue to grow, and critical services will get squeezed.”

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State CFO Jimmy Patronis continued his “Rally at the Restaurant” events this week, coming to Pensacola on Tuesday to call for more COVID-19 liability protections for restaurants and other businesses.

Patronis appeared with legislators and some of the leaders of the business community at the Fish House.

“I was proud to be joined in Pensacola today by local leaders and small business owners to ‘Rally at the Restaurant’ at the Fish House and fight for vital COVID-19 liability protections for all Pensacola businesses. As a former small business owner myself, I’ve spent most of my life in the restaurant industry and I know how hard it is to make payroll on a good day, much less when hampered by the financial impacts of COVID-19. Since the pandemic began, I’ve spoken to countless business owners and held meetings with chambers of commerce statewide and they all share the same open-ended liability fears and concerns. We must allow business owners who follow the proper health and safety guidelines to be protected from frivolous lawsuits and sue and settle tactics that will stifle our state’s recovery,” Patronis said.

“No doubt, unless we take action to protect our small businesses, we’ll see big problems: businesses will close, insurance rates will continue to grow, and critical services will get squeezed. I’m confident that we can pass meaningful liability protections and add Florida to the list of 21 other states that have enacted some sort of liability shields for businesses. We have to support our small businesses, we have to support our employees who want to get back to work, and we have to work together to get Florida’s economy back on its feet,” he added.

Leaders of the business community expressed their support of Patronis and for COVID-19 liability protections for businesses.

“On behalf of FRLA’s 10,000 members, I want to thank CFO Patronis for ‘Rallying at the Restaurant’ today in Pensacola to support restaurants and the hospitality sector as a whole. We applaud the CFO for his steadfast commitment to ensure that critical liability protections are enacted for businesses who are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic. These protections are essential to the recovery of our industry and Florida’s economy,” said Carol Dover, the president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA).

Mark Wilson, the president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, also expressed his support.

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“The Florida Chamber commends CFO Patronis for his commitment in championing liability protections for businesses who are trying to keep their customers and employees safe. Florida business owners are working hard every day to earn an honest living, support their employees and make a difference in our communities. No business should be forced to close due to being set up by lawyers just looking for a payday. Thank you to CFO Patronis for your dedication to establish COVID-19 business liability protections,” Wilson said.

Bill Herrle, the executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) in Florida, also backed Patronis.

“Liability protections are urgently needed in Florida and NFIB is calling on the Legislature and Congress to pass measures to prevent frivolous lawsuits related to COVID. We are extremely grateful to have CFO Patronis on our side. Without these protections, more small businesses could end up closing their doors for good,” Herrle said.

With the Legislature getting ready for the upcoming session in Tallahassee, several Panhandle legislators said they were ready to fight for business liability protections.

“COVID-19 has created enormous pressure on our small businesses and restaurants. For any legal or governmental institution to take advantage of these hardworking individuals during this time is especially egregious. I am thankful that CFO Patronis, a business owner himself, understands these concerns and I stand with him in protecting these restaurants and their employees,” said state Sen. Doug Broxson, R-Pensacola,

“I appreciate CFO Patronis’ commitment to provide common-sense business liability protections. The pandemic has created a tremendous burden on our small business. Knowing that Florida’s elected officials are concerned and working to address inappropriate liability tactics will go a long way in our state’s economic recovery,” said state Rep. Alex Andrade, R-Pensacola.

“I am proud to stand with CFO Patronis on this critical issue affecting our businesses. If Florida’s business owners are following the proper guidelines they should not have to live in fear of frivolous litigation. By passing these important protections, our business community will be able to reopen and operate in confidence,” said state Rep. Michelle Salzman, R-Escambia County.


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  • Kevin Derby

    Originally from Jacksonville, Kevin Derby is a contributing writer for Florida Daily and covers politics across Florida.

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