As businesses throughout the state start to re-open, there is a looming question as to whether it is safe. Consumers want to resume a back to normal lifestyle by visiting their favorite restaurants and stores, but also want to limit their risk of contracting COVID-19. Businesses, eager to bounce back from this economic crisis, also want to welcome consumers into a safe environment, but yet are hesitant about the liability that looms ahead if a consumer or contractor claims he or she contracted the virus while at the business’s location.
Through the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (“Go-Biz”), the State has issued substantive guidelines for businesses in different industries to follow with respect to how a business can maintain a safe environment for employees and consumers: https://covid19.ca.gov/roadmap/#guidance. These guidelines include temperature checks, health screenings, social distancing, staggered employee schedules, increased cleaning, protective equipment, and more. Local cities and counties are also adopting their own specific guidelines, some requiring masks even before the Governor announced the statewide mandate last week. Businesses have invested time and resources to restructure their stores, restaurants, and workspaces to comply with these guidelines. But, even taking these proactive measures does not necessarily protect a business from a civil lawsuit. A consumer or contractor who claim to have gotten sick while visiting a business’s location will allege the business could have done more, could have acted more reasonable with regard to the safety precautions and measures taken. And what is the business’s defense? Read More