FILE - OH Mike DeWine 4-29-2020

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks April 29, 2020, about the coronavirus crisis.

(The Center Square) – Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed into a law a bill passed earlier this month that protects businesses, schools and health care providers from lawsuits resulting from COVID-19.

Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof called the bill a major step forward in protecting schools, health care providers and small businesses during the pandemic.

“Ohio’s small businesses and schools are working hard to reopen, bring back employees and safely welcome their customers and students,” Obhof said in a news release. “This legislation helps provide the peace of mind they need to reopen as we work together to rebuild Ohio’s economy.”

Obhof said the legislation protects against frivolous lawsuits that allege exposure to COVID-19 on an entity’s premises. It does not offer protection if it is discovered a business owner, school or health care provider acted with reckless or intentional misconduct to spread the virus.

The legislation, supported by the Ohio Manufacturers Association, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business, initially passed the Ohio Senate in June. The House and Senate each passed a final version of House Bill 606 in early September.

The protections in the bill are temporary and continue through Sept. 30, 2021.

“By signing this important Buckeye-championed policy into law, Governor DeWine has given responsible businesses, schools, medical providers, and frontline workers the confidence to re-open and return to work without the fear of being slapped with COVID-related lawsuits," Rea Hederman Jr., executive director of the Economic Research Center at The Buckeye Institute and vice president of policy, said in a statement. "These liability protections will help speed Ohio’s economic recovery and get more Ohioans safely back to work.”

Regional Editor

An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.