After spending nearly one month with doors shuddered, many Georgia businesses will be permitted to reopen on Friday, April 24th and Monday, April 27th. There is certainly a lot of debate about the timing of Governor Kemp’s order in balancing the health dangers of coronavirus with the devastating economic consequences to the economy. While reopening may be a wise or necessary choice for some small businesses, it is vitally important for small business owners to take the necessary precautions to protect their customers and employees and to avoid compounding their economic troubles with legal problems.
A business that opens during the pandemic runs the risk of its customers or employees getting infected. If people get sick, especially if they die, lawsuits are likely inevitable. In fact, cases resulting from injuries and deaths to customers and employees are already being filed around the country.
Small businesses should protect themselves by ensuring that their spaces remain clean and sanitary. Moreover, it is important to follow all guidelines from the federal government, as well as and those issued by the Governor of Georgia. Some of these guidelines include a reduction in maximum occupancy, ensuring proper social distancing, and providing employees with personal protective equipment (“PPE”). Employers should also take measures to ensure that customers and employees who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 should stay at home.
By taking active steps such as these, employers will potentially do their part to avoid spreading the disease. In the unfortunate circumstance that a customer or employee gets sick or, even worse, dies, the business can reduce or avoid liability by showing that it took all reasonable steps to protect its clientele and workers from this disease.