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How to Tell If a Property Is Failing to Protect People From COVID-19

Signs That a Property Is Likely to Spread COVID

With almost 5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States as of August 2020, it is important for landlords, retailers, and restaurant owners to provide safe environments for clients. Unfortunately, some are failing to meet basic safety standards. Here are a few of the main warning signs that a property is not properly protecting customers from COVID.

Surfaces Look Dirty and Grimy

When trying to assess COVID risks at a property, one of the first things you can do is just take a look around the building. While this virus is mostly any airborne disease, it can still spread from someone touching a surface that has COVID droplets on it. To address this problem, businesses should be taking the time to regularly sanitize shelves, doorknobs, customer shopping carts, tables, and other surfaces. When you visit a property, you cannot tell their sanitization methods at a glance. However, if there is plenty of obvious grime built up on surfaces, it is obvious they have not been cleaning lately. The visible state of cleanliness provides insight into how seriously the property is taking health and safety.

Tables, Chairs, and Waiting Lines Are Clustered Closely Together

While the pandemic is ongoing, a property has a responsibility to keep patrons socially distanced as much as possible. When they are still routing all their customers to the same spots, they force people to cluster closely together, potentially spreading COVID. You should be wary of a property that is set up in a way that encourages people to group together closely. Red flags like multiple checkout lines set up right next to each other or rows of chairs packed into a small place should be a cause for concern. Even if you have the option of still maintaining a 6-foot distance, a property that encourages people to break social distancing is likely to spread COVID-19. Properties with lower infection risks tend to have barriers, stickers, or signs set up that encourage people to stay farther apart.

Sick Employees Are Still Required to Work

A major warning sign is any sick employee who is still on-site. All responsible businesses are offering employees plenty of paid sick leave if they experience COVID symptoms. If you hear a business is telling employees to come in when sick, you should avoid the property. It can also be problematic if a business is refusing to provide sick leave for employees or penalizing employees who do not show up for their shifts. This sort of work environment can result in higher COVID transmission risks for everyone who visits the property. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which originally passed in March, was designed to help prevent situations where sick employees had to come in to work.

Hand Sanitizing Stations Are Empty

In situations where people will inevitably be touching items in the business shop, hand sanitizer stations can reduce COVID spread. Therefore, many companies are providing hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes to people who approach the property. A property that is not supplying people with basic hand-cleaning supplies is making it much easier to transmit COVID. Furthermore, if a business is not regularly refilling their hand sanitizing stations, it is likely they are ignoring other precautionary measures as well.

Customer-Facing Employees Are Not Being Protected

One of the biggest vectors for COVID transmission is between employees and customers. For example, a cashier sees hundreds of people a day, so their risk of getting COVID is higher. If they are sick and do not realize it, they can then pass on COVID to hundreds of more people. Therefore, smart properties are taking the time to protect their employees. This can take many forms, including giving employees gloves and masks or placing sneeze guards between employees and customers. If a property is encouraging all of its employees to directly interact with others without preventative measures, then many Allentown personal injury lawyers believe they are greatly increasing risks of COVID spread.

Ventilation Is Spreading 'Dirty' Air Around the Building

There have already been quite a few cases of HVAC systems spreading COVID by picking up airborne particles and blowing them directly into someone else's face. This can make it possible for a worker to get infected even if they are stationed far away from a sick person. CDC guidelines recommend that properties change HVAC practices to move air vertically instead of horizontally. This helps reduce cross-drafts that spread COVID. Of course, changing the entire HVAC system may not be possible for a small business that rents its space, but larger properties should at least be trying to create safer HVAC systems. A property that is using fans to blow air right into your face may be increasing your COVID risks.

The Business Is Not Enforcing Local Mask Restrictions

Any property that is not following local masking laws has especially high risks. While being forced to wear a mask may feel like an infringement, there is plenty of scientific evidence about the efficacy of covering your face. A mask helps to catch the droplets that contain tiny COVID particles. In areas where everyone wears masks, COVID transmission rates are far lower. Therefore, it is a bad idea to visit properties that are encouraging people to go maskless. If they are going as far as actively breaking the law, this is especially concerning. Businesses that refuse to enforce mask regulations are putting all their inhabitants at risk.

Employees Are Not Educated on Proper COVID Prevention Methods

Any property that plans on having employees on-site needs to put policies in place to reduce COVID transmission. If a company has no clear guidance for employees, they are making it far easier for the virus to spread. Ideally, a property should enact site-wide guidelines for how to reduce COVID. This should include frequent hand washing, checking employees' temperatures, wearing a clean mask each day, and staying far apart from others. Management must tell employees about these guidelines and offer regular reminders of the points. Without any clear policies from management, employees and customers will be placed in an unsafe situation.

They Require Customers to Sign a Waiver Before Using the Property

Businesses have a responsibility to provide a reasonably safe environment during the pandemic. Those that ignore basic safety precautions may open themselves up to premises liability claims. Potentially, a business that makes it easy for people to catch airborne viruses could be sued as part of a COVID lawsuit. Some companies may try to get around this by requiring visitors to sign a premises liability waiver whenever they want to be on-site. These waivers are not always enforceable in a court of law. Furthermore, it is a bad sign if a company wants you to sign waivers absolving them of their duty. You may want to take a closer look at their COVID policies if they are already trying to avoid lawsuits. If you're worried that a property may be spreading COVID-19, consider reaching out to a lawyer. At the law firm of Metzger & Kleiner, we enjoy providing helpful information on personal injury cases. We can discuss your situation and help determine if you may have a case. Our aggressive representation helps injured people get the compensation they deserve. To talk to an Allentown personal injury lawyer, call 215-567-6616 or send us a message now.

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