TALLAHASSEE – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law SB 72 on Civil Liability for Damages Relating to COVID-19. The passage of this legislation has been a top priority for the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) and the hospitality industry. FRLA and its members have been working with the Legislature and the Governor’s Office to enact meaningful and certain legislation to prevent frivolous lawsuits as the industry tries to recover from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“On behalf of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, our 10,000 members, and the statewide hospitality industry, we applaud Governor Ron DeSantis for signing this critical legislation to protect Florida businesses,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA). “I also want to thank House Speaker Sprowls, Senate President Simpson, and the bill sponsors Senator Jeff Brandes and Representative Lawrence McClure, as well as CFO Patronis who has championed COVID-19 protections for our industry. Our hotels, restaurants, and suppliers join other businesses across Florida in breathing a collective sigh of relief that they can continue to safely operate and welcome their guests without fear of nuisance litigation.”
WHAT THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY IS SAYING:
“As a small business owner and independent restaurateur, the signing of the COVID-19 liability protections into law allows me to focus on keeping my team members employed and our guests happy,” said Chef Jim Shirley, Owner of Chef Jim Shirley Enterprises, operator of multiple restaurants in the Florida Panhandle, and Chairman of the Board for FRLA. “On behalf of small business owners across the state, I commend the Governor for taking this action and helping protect businesses who are doing the right thing to promote sanitation and safety.
“Speaking as one of the over 42,000 small business owners who continued to safely serve frontline and health care workers, first responders, and law-enforcement during an unfathomably difficult year and proudly re-employing hospitality workers in our restaurants, we are relieved that the COVID-19 liability law was signed by Governor DeSantis,” said Mike Quillen, President of Gecko’s Hospitality Group in Sarasota. “Taking this additional contrived threat off our plates will allow us to get back to the business of safely running our restaurants and continuing to create career opportunity and economic stimulus to help the great state of Florida recover.”
“We at Blue Bamboo Restaurant and Bar are thrilled over Governor DeSantis’ signing of a COVID liability protection bill, “said Dennis Chan, Chef, Owner, and Operator of Blue Bamboo. “We have had a rough year, but now some of the uncertainty of our recovery is clear. Our legislators and Governor DeSantis have just helped prove that Florida is open for business.”
“It has been an incredibly difficult year for restaurants as we recover from shutdowns, loss of visitors, and now labor shortages,” said Carlos Gazitua, President of Sergio’s Family Restaurants. ”Facing the threat of lawsuits was an additional concern for our industry, and with his signing of the COVID liability legislation into law, Governor DeSantis has taken a critical step to help restaurants move forward to a recovery and put this terrible year behind us.”
“With these new COVID-19 liability protections in place, it gives us the confidence in opening new operations in the near future,” said Drew McLeod, FMP, Owner and Operator of Savour. “It was the one obstacle we had before moving forward on a new concept.“
“I applaud the Governor and Florida Legislature for passing this important bill,” said Sheldon Suga, Vice President and Managing Director of Hawks Cay Resort in Duck Key and Immediate Past Chair of the FRLA Executive Committee. “We care about our guests and their safety, and this will allow responsible businesses to continue to rebuild our industry.”
“Confidence is essential to our pandemic recovery,” said Lisa Lombardo, Chief People and Culture Officer for HDG Hotels. “Governor DeSantis’ signing of the COVID liability acknowledges all that our industry has put into effect to protect our team members and guests, while also allowing for measures to be taken if there is a harmful gap in a business’s practices. Today, our Governor stood by business owners without compromising constituents’ welfare. This is a tremendous confidence boost for all stakeholders: business owners, consumers, visitors – all of us in Florida.”
“This is great common-sense legislation coming from Tallahassee today with the signing of this bill,” said John Horne, Owner and Operator of Anna Maria Oyster Bar. “It is so very important to those of us in business that have been doing everything in our power to open up safely for our staff and our guests. Not having to worry about Covid-related nuisance lawsuits and the expense to respond is a huge relief. Thanks to our legislators and Governor DeSantis for this.”
“Hotels and restaurants have the highest standards and have gone above and beyond to make our guests feel safe during the pandemic,” said Roger Amidon, General Manager for Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort and Spa. “As an industry we have brand standards, CDC standards, and have taken extra sanitation precautions to provide a safe and enjoyable vacation for people who want to travel to Florida. The implementation of this legislation allows us to continue to focus on guest and team member safety as we have been for the last year.”
“I applaud the Governor and Florida Legislature for passing this important bill,” said Sheldon Suga, Vice President and Managing Director of Hawks Cay Resort in Duck Key and Immediate Past Chair of the FRLA Executive Committee. “We care about our guests and their safety, and this will allow responsible business to continue to rebuild our industry.