April 13, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today announced the“Path Forward” program, an initiative to address how Americans and businesses can return to work safely, successfully, and sustainably.
The program includes a comprehensive framework of considerations, an event series that will feature diverse viewpoints from the public and private sectors and recommendations on the practices and policies needed to begin a phased process to bring the full American economy back to work.
The Chamber, through its membership of small, medium, and large companies, as well as its network of state, local, and international chambers and associations, has an unmatched perspective encompassing all sectors of the economy and all corners of our nation. This diversity of viewpoints will contribute to the ongoing national conversation and ultimate recommendations for the Path Forward program.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, the Chamber has vigorously advocated for fast action on legislation to provide employers, employees, and families with much-needed financial assistance, including the successful passage of the CARES Act. The Chamber also has hosted more than 200 virtual sessions with tens of thousands of small businesses, as well as big companies and their small business suppliers and customers, to hear first-hand about the impact of the virus and provide guidance on what aid is available and how to access it.
“This pandemic is upending every way of life, including how businesses operate and care for employees and communities. As we adjust to this new reality, we must understand that many laws and regulations were designed for a different time and place, and today they could significantly hamper– or even contradict– recovery efforts,” U.S. Chamber President Suzanne Clark said. “How America reopens will be the result of unprecedented coordination between business and government, and the planning must begin now. We need new processes and rules that reflect the realities of the pandemic.”
In a letter sent to members, national associations, and state and local chambers across the country today, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce outlined the following key considerations:
- Essential services and resources necessary for returning to work: general health screening, COVID-19 testing, personal protective equipment, childcare, and transportation.
- Resolution to regulatory and legal liability issues: health privacy, discrimination claims, safe workplace requirements, support for independent contractors, employment practices, exposure liability, product liability, medical liability, securities litigation, customer communications, and the False Claims Act.
- Support for businesses and individuals during a phased reopening: businesses dependent on high-density gatherings or travel, and individuals delayed in returning to work.
Following the release of the letter, the Chamber has begun the process of collecting feedback from local and state Chambers and member companies across the country.
“How our nation’s public and private sectors manage this transition will determine how quickly we can stage an economic comeback and help families overcome financial hardship,” Clark said. “We need a roadmap to reinvigorate our economy and a renewed sense of public safety and confidence.”
Path Forward Virtual Event Series
Additionally, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation today launched a new online series called Path Forward to educate the public on the topic. Each episode of Path Forward will feature experts sharing their perspectives on the complex issues involved in a responsible reopening strategy. The first program will focus on the state of the pandemic, potential scenarios for reopening, and lessons America can learn from businesses in other parts of the world.
The series launches Monday, April 13 at 3:00 p.m. ET with Dr. William Hanage, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Register here: https://cvent.me/ebg2E0.
Future programs, which will occur on Mondays and Thursdays from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. EST, for the next several weeks will cover barriers to reopening, such as childcare and transit; complex questions about immunity and liability; and ways employers can incorporate screening, social-distancing, and other novel approaches into the workplace.
Since the onset of the pandemic, the U.S. Chamber has tried to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus by equipping businesses with tools, resources, and information to help them navigate the many challenges of the pandemic in real time. The Chamber’s resources have been downloaded two million times, and tens of thousands of small businesses and nonprofits have joined online townhall events dedicated to helping them survive this unprecedented health and economic crisis.
To learn more about the Chamber’s efforts in response to the coronavirus pandemic, please visit www.uschamber.com.