COVID-19 Business Restrictions Update: Don't Let it Surprise You

Fennemore Client Alert

COVID-19 Business Restrictions Update: Don’t Let it Surprise You

Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order on March 5, 2021, effectively terminating all standing pandemic-related occupancy restrictions for restaurants, bars, gyms, and movie theatres. Governor Ducey cites successful vaccine distribution as the most influential factor in his decision to allow establishments to operate at full capacity.

Businesses are still expected to follow guidelines implemented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Such guidelines include, but are not limited to: promoting healthy hygiene practices, intensified disinfection, ensuring physical distancing, and monitoring for sickness. There have been no changes to the current standing mask mandate and masks are still required inside all Arizona businesses.

As stated in the executive order, businesses should continue to follow federal and state guidelines related to protecting the public from COVID-19 on their premises. This will require the businesses to operate at a capacity level that still permits social distancing.

In addition to the aforementioned modifications, Major League Sports are permitted to resume activities following the ADHS’s approval of reopening plans.

On a related note, Senator Vince Leach has introduced a bill, SB 1377, Civil Liability; Public Health Pandemic, to preclude liability for damages related to COVID-19 claims, during a public health pandemic declared by the Governor, for a person or provider who acts in good faith to protect a customer, student, tenant, volunteer, patient, guest or neighbor, or the public, from the public health pandemic for injury, death or loss to a person or property from a claim that the person or provider did not protect the person making the claim from the effects of the pandemic. Additionally, the person bringing the claim must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the person or provider failed to act and the failure to act was the result of the person or provider’s willful misconduct or gross negligence. The bill also establishes a presumption that the person or provider acted in good faith if they adopted and implemented reasonable policies related to the pandemic. This is a very high burden of proof and is intended to reduce claims by attorneys. This is deemed by constitutional scholars the best approach to avoid violating the state constitution, Article 18, Section 6, which prohibits the Legislature and Governor from preventing a citizen from bringing a cause of action against another citizen or entity. The bill passed the Senate, was transmitted to the House and assigned to the Judiciary Committee. It must be heard by the Committee before the end of March to continue through the process.

To read the Executive Order, please click here.

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