New Hampshire lawmakers are considering a bill to waive sanctions against businesses cited by the state for violating COVID-19 health guidelines. The plan's backers say lifting penalties for violators, once the state of emergency ends, strikes a proper balance.
As drafted, the bill would void any penalty imposed by the state on individuals and businesses found in violation of COVID-19 policy. It would also force the state to repay any fines paid by violators. But according to Rep Andrew Prout, the bill's lead sponsor and a Hudson Republican, he's no longer thinking so big.
He told colleagues that he doesn't want to undercut the state's power to police COVID policy during the state of emergency but to ensure when the state of emergency expires, so will the effect of any sanction.
"What it does do is say once we are out of this pandemic…that the penalties will not be permanent, and that people know there is a future for their business."
The state has so far issued eight sanctions against businesses for violating COVID standards, with fines totaling less than $10,000. The Department of Justice says it has received thousands of calls from people reporting potential violations of COVID-19 polices.