Apr 25, 2020 - Health

Business to warn against patchwork rules

Mike Allen
Maryland State Police Detective Steve Dulski gets a trim at Old Line Barbers in Bel Air after Gov. Larry Hogan let essential employees get haircuts.
Maryland State Police Detective Steve Dulski gets a trim at Old Line Barbers in Bel Air after Gov. Larry Hogan let essential employees get haircuts. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will send a letter next week urging President Trump, governors, mayors and county officials to work together on consistent rules for a staged reopening, Neil Bradley, the chamber's executive vice president and chief policy officer, told me in a phone interview.

What Bradley is saying: "As much as possible, we want them to mirror each other, and not have needless differences" on such matters as temperature checks, Bradley said.

A draft of the letter says: "[W]e urge you to refrain from converting public health and safety guidance into regulations."

  • "Second, we encourage you to the maximum extent possible to ensure guidance is generally consistent across our federal, state, and local governments.”

Bradley told me that after consulting businesses and partners in all 50 states, he sees three ways that reopening America could be fumbled:

  1. Substituting bureaucracy for proven best practices, with "overly prescriptive" guidelines or regulations about new rules for the workplace.
  2. Business could quickly "become paralyzed by a patchwork of differing requirements at different levels of government." On a conference call with Bradley yesterday, a utility executive talked about tracking requirements in 2,000 jurisdictions, each with its own little twist.
  3. Employers could be frozen by fear of what Bradley called "frivolous lawsuits," such as employees or customers saying they were exposed to the virus in a workplace. Federal or state legislation may be needed, Bradley said.

Go deeper: The risk of reopening too soon

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