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DES MOINES, Iowa — Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed a bill into law that now gives businesses and health care providers more protections against COVID-19-related lawsuits. Republicans in the legislature supported the bill, saying it will help reopen Iowa’s economy.

“Things like businesses, churches, schools, pools and also to health care workers, as well as people who completely change their business model to manufacturer things like PPE and make masks and hand sanitizer and stuff. It’s a way to make sure that those people can be protected and the businesses get their doors back open without the threat of litigation hanging over their head,” Republican State Sen. Zach Whiting said.

But that does not mean someone cannot file a lawsuit. Whiting said more than 2,600 have already been filed. In order to file a lawsuit against a business or organization, a person must prove they showed malice or recklessness or negligence to the risk of COVID-19.

Democrats are strongly opposed the bill, arguing it benefits corporations and not individual workers.

“When you take away any liability, you are now competing for the bottom because what you do is you figure out everything you need to make a profit, not taking anybody’s health into expense. We’re just giving you a free ticket to come into Iowa and abuse Iowans,” Democrat State Sen. Tony Bisignano said.

The law was signed Friday, but the protections are retroactive to Jan. 1, 2020.