June 1: As U.S. businesses reopen after weeks of pandemic lockdowns, many have been posting coronavirus disclaimers or requiring employees and patrons to sign waivers before entering.
From hair salons and recreation centres to stock exchanges and wedding photographers, the notices have sprung up across the country, asking guests to acknowledge they might contract a disease that has so far killed over 100,000 Americans, Reuters reported.
Companies are using signs, forms and website postings as a shield against lawsuits, but the measures do not prevent people from seeking damages due to negligence, the same way someone might sue after falling on a slippery floor or getting sick from walls covered in lead paint, experts said.
Lawyers said it would be tough to prove a business caused a customer’s illness, but concerns are so intense that a waiver may soon become the new normal.
Entities including the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City, a real estate agency in Arizona, a racecar speedway in Seinsgrove, Pennsylvania, and the New York Stock Exchange have introduced waivers disavowing responsibility for anyone who might contract the disease onsite, Reuters has learned.
Missoula, Montana-based lawyer Paige Marie Griffith created a waiver for COVID-19, the respiratory illness related to the novel coronavirus, that business owners can buy and customise online. Events industry workers, including makeup artists and wedding photographers, are using them, she said.