Reps. Kenyatta and Snyder discuss impact of COVID-19 on Pa. businesses, unveil new bill to expand business interruption policies

HARRISBURG, Feb. 16 – State Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., and Pam Snyder, D- Greene/Fayette/Washington, today teamed up to host Business Interrupted: a discussion on the impacts of COVID-19 on businesses across Pennsylvania, with the goal of finding meaningful solutions to preserve one of Pennsylvania’s top industries.

The discussion, streamed live on the lawmakers’ Facebook pages, featured testimony from experts in the restaurant industry regarding the need to include the impacts of business losses because of COVID-19 in business coverage insurance claims. 

Kenyatta, who represents parts of North Philadelphia, said that the restaurant industry has been his lifeline — his first place of employment and a means to help put himself through college. He also raised that protecting this industry protects the livelihoods of countless residents across Pennsylvania.

“My first job was in the restaurant industry washing dishes and then I began hosting and waiting tables through college. This industry isn’t near and dear to me heart because I like bars and restaurants, but because this industry has essentially helped me survive. It is the same for so many others in our commonwealth who are currently afraid that their means of survival and way to showcase their craft will soon disappear,” Kenyatta said. “This discussion provides more insight to ensure our legislation adequately addresses the needs of this vital industry that employs so many of neighbors across this state.”

Snyder, who represents the southwestern region of Pennsylvania, echoed Kenyatta’s sentiments, reiterating the need for comprehensive policy to aid in saving the restaurant industry, adding that she has introduced several pieces of legislation over the last year.

“Many businesses in our communities that we hold dear are on the brink of shutting their doors forever from the inability to operate as normal,” Snyder said. “We live in extraordinary times, and we must take extraordinary action to mitigate the effects of this pandemic. We need to clarify that business interruption policies cover the cost of lost business due to COVID-19, and we need to make sure money is available to cover those claims.”

Kenyatta and Snyder’s discussion related to legislation they plan to introduce that would expand business interruption policies to acknowledge losses suffered during the governor’s disaster declaration by aiming to:

  • Clarify that business interruption policies in effect as of the date of the governor’s disaster declaration (March 6, 2020) include coverage of perils related to COVID-19.
  • Allow insurers to receive reimbursement for business interruption insurance claims paid due to COVID-19.
  • Provide for a mechanism to make funds immediately available for such reimbursement.