LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Nevada officials say the state has become the first in the nation model by outlining specific protections for worker health and blocking some businesses from lawsuits connected to COVID-19.
On Tuesday, Gov. Steve Sisolak signed Senate Bill 4, also known as the "Aldolfo Fernandez" bill into law.
"My dad was an amazing, hard-working man and he worked as a utility porter for 18 years and we are heartbroken that he passed away on June 24 due to COVID-19," said Irma Fernandez.
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Irma and the union her father belonged to, the Culinary Union Local 226, went to work shortly after to lobby lawmakers to make changes to protect workers.
"I wish he was here to witness this, he would be so happy about these new protections," said Irma Fernandez.
"It will help many workers and their families," added Irma Fernandez.
The measure spells out specific protections for workers in the hospitality industry, including:
- Minimum social distancing of 6 feet between hotel workers and guests
- Mandatory COVID-19 testing for workers
- Daily temperature checks
- Paid time off for those who are waiting for test results.
The new law also requires daily hotel room cleaning while in use, unless the guest staying in the room refused.
The law lists specific items that must be cleaned inside a room including; TV remotes, touch screens, and light switches.
Hotels cannot advise or incentivize hotel guests from declining daily room cleaning.
MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbucklesays the new law protects Nevada's largest economic engine.
Leaders say Nevada has proven that it is possible to protect employees, businesses and the economy while holding bad actors and irresponsible businesses accountable.
Hotels, resorts, casinos, and many other businesses cannot be sued if they follow the protocols outlined in the new law.
However, nonprofit groups, nursing homes, public schools, and hospitals are specifically exempt from the liability protections offered by the law.
The governor says the law was framed over a course of month of negotiations.
The Nevada Hospital Association, or NHA, released a statement Tuesday regarding the law:
“The passing of SB4 by the Nevada Senate and Assembly is disappointing, hospitals and health care workers have been on the front lines of COVID-19 since March and not extending premises liability protections to them creates situations that need to be addressed to ensure the safety of patients, employees and hospitals themselves.”
Any businesses found in violation of the law can be sued for gross negligence.
The business may also face a $500 fine per initial offense and $1,000 for subsequent or second offense violations.
Businesses could also run into trouble with local business licensing authorities for violations.