Proceeding With Caution — COVID-19 Liability Series: A Practical Guide for Businesses in the Post-Quarantine World

On April 22, 2020, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe announced that as the number of provincial COVID-19 cases remain low, the government of Saskatchewan will introduce a five-phase plan to gradually and methodically reopen its economy next month.

This phased reopening of the Saskatchewan economy will not be a simple matter of opening the doors and returning to “business as usual.” The Premier warned that as businesses reopen, they will be required to follow stringent physical distancing and cleaning procedures. Restrictions on travel, large gatherings and senior care homes will also remain in place for the foreseeable future.

Faced with onerous new public health standards, business services of all kinds will be confronted with increased exposure to liability and many other unique legal challenges. To prepare for this new legal landscape, now is an opportune time to review your organization’s policies and procedures to ensure that they are up to speed with the required standard of care as you enter a post-quarantine – but not post-COVID-19 – world.

To assist in this process, we are launching a COVID-19 liability series which will highlight a number of common liability issues your organization may face with respect to your employees, customers, business relationships and the public-at-large.

Our Insights will include discussion of the following topics:

  1. Occupiers’ liability: What do you need to know when customers or clients enter your place of business?
  2. Negligence: What will inform the standard of care expected of your business and/or professional service in the context of COVID-19? To whom is this duty of care owed?
  3. Disclosure: What obligations does your business have to warn others of COVID-19-related risks? What are the consequences of failing to properly warn or to provide inaccurate information?
  4. Insurance: What are the key considerations when reviewing your insurance policy? How do you know if it still applies? Can a COVID-19 case qualify as an “accident”? When might an exclusion of liability clause apply?
  5. Mitigating the risks: What proactive steps should you be taking to minimize your liability? Does having someone sign a waiver protect you from liability?

As governments continue efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve, we foresee more provinces following suit to gradually re-open their economies in a similar fashion. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide additional updates as they pertain to your business.

Throughout the course of this series, we encourage any business to contact us for more specific information and assistance with these and related matters. Our firm advises clients on how to navigate the legal and regulatory challenges facing them as they look ahead in these uncertain times.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice of opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.