April 28, 2020 / 4:35 PM / a month ago

U.S. Chamber cautions against new coronavirus-linked regulations for business

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday said guidelines for reopening businesses after coronavirus lockdowns should be consistent across states, cities and counties, but cautioned that these should not morph into new, enforceable regulations.

In a letter to President Donald Trump and selected governors, mayors and county leaders, the powerful business lobbying group said there was “no playbook for reopening millions of businesses while simultaneously fighting a pandemic.”

In discussions within its own business-focused reopening task force, Chamber officials wrote that converting public health and safety guidance into new regulations could add further challenges to businesses if officials enforced a new “rule book.”

“For instance, they could issue fines when they find a sneeze guard out of place, an employee using the wrong mask, or two employees five feet ten inches apart, not the mandated six feet,” U.S. Chamber chief policy officer Neil Bradley and Florida Chamber of Commerce president Mark Wilson wrote.

In addition, they raised concerns about a patchwork of guidance between states, cities, counties and the federal government. Guidance should meet local conditions, but they said “unnecessary conflicts” should be avoided, such as differing guidance on how far apart restaurant tables must be.

“We fully expect that reopening will happen at a different pace throughout the country based on local conditions,” the Chamber officials wrote.

“It would be preferable if the guidance from state and local governments was more uniform across the nation, which will speed the safe reopening.”

Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Tom Brown

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