Protecting Your Business Threatened by Civil Unrest

Please note: These tips are pulled from the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s “Safety and Security Quick Guides" and are for general guidance only. This information is not a substitute for legal advice.

Major cities across the country, including all state capitals, are on a heightened sense of alarm as the FBI has received information pointing towards “armed protests” between January 16 – 20, 2021. This intelligence is being taken very seriously given the recent events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. What do these threats mean for local businesses and what can you do in advance to prepare? Here are some actions your business can take to make sure you are prepared for disruptions that may take place over the coming days and beyond:

Protect Your People
  • Partner with local government officials and law enforcement to make sure you are receiving pertinent updates and alerts. Some jurisdictions provide specific updates for the private sector. 
  • Follow road closures/open routes of transportation to ensure continuity of services and protect employees in transit. 
  • Some businesses are hiring short-term security guards, especially if they are located near targeted federal and state government buildings, where they may be vulnerable. 
  • Review and update your emergency communication protocol. Keep your emergency contact list updated in case you need to quickly communicate with employees, vendors, or key customers. 
  • Make sure employees are also prepared at home and are following guidance from the city and state governments. Currently, the threats are targeting federal and state government buildings, but a charged crowd could quickly turn its attention to nearby businesses. Make sure your employees are alert to current events and prepared if needed.  
Protect Your Property
  • Ensure the physical building your business is located in is secure, especially if the business has been closed for some time and has not been recently monitored for any vulnerabilities.  
  • Make windows more difficult to open with locks and pins. Add protective film, which makes glass more difficult to break. You may also choose to install wood barriers to deter vandalism. 
  • Remove items (trash bins, furniture, etc.) around the periphery of your building that are not secured and could be used to damage the business. 
  • Add a fence as a first line of defense. Also install fencing and lighting to help protect equipment, vehicles, and supplies stored outdoors. 
  • Install video cameras to monitor entrance and exit points and other critical locations around your business, if you do not already have them in place.
  • Repair damage to windows, doors, and other potential access points before they become entries for criminals. 
  • Check your specific insurance policy to ensure you have adequate coverage. Standard commercial policies typically include coverage for physical loss or damage to the insured premises and other business property resulting from looting, vandalism, and riots. Whether a specific loss will be covered depends on the actual language in the applicable policy and any coverage exclusions that may apply.

More than 100 business leaders—including The U.S. Chamber of Commerce—have called for a peaceful presidential transition. However, as the events on January 6th at the U.S. Capitol have shown, we need to be prepared for any future actions bad actors may take to try and disrupt democracy. For a year where businesses have already experienced so much loss due to COVID-19, we hope that additional damages do not occur at the hands of rioters. 

The U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Disaster Help Desk for Business is here to support your business after any disaster or business interruption, especially during this uncertain time. For any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out by calling 1-888-MY-BIZ-HELP or emailing BizHelpdesk@USChamber.com