Responsibility for Disinfecting Common Areas During COVID-19

The novel coronavirus pandemic has resulted in unprecedented impacts on businesses, including business closures and severe restrictions on the operation of local businesses. On March 27, 2010, Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive Order that requires North Carolinians to stay home and only leave for certain permitted activities. This executive Order did allow for COVID-19 Essential Businesses and Operations to continue. The Order allows for essential businesses to continue operating so long as they follow certain social distancing requirements. "Social distancing requirements" include regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces. If you are an owner of an essential business and are concerned about your responsibilities under the Executive Orders, contact our experienced business litigation attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC.

What businesses are essential?

A large number of businesses were classified as essential under Executive Order No. 121. In particular, a large amount of small businesses were permitted to continue operations so long as they comply with social distancing requirements. Some examples of these businesses are:

  • Restaurants
  • Food and beverage production
  • Construction
  • Building and grounds maintenance
  • Grocery stores
  • Farm stands
  • Pharmacies
  • Convenience stores
  • Pet supply stores
  • Farms
  • Animal shelters
  • Animal rescues
  • Animal kennels and adoption facilities
  • Food banks
  • Certain charitable organizations
  • Gas stations
  • Auto repair
  • Towing services
  • Boat repair
  • Bicycle shops
  • Shipping services
  • Hardware stores
  • Home improvement stores
  • Building supply stores
  • Stores selling electrical, plumbing or HVAC materials
  • Pawnbrokers
  • Appraisers
  • Insurance companies and affiliates (underwriters, agents, brokers and claim services)
  • Laundromats
  • Dry cleaners
  • Taxis
  • Vehicle rental services
  • Marinas and docks
  • Legal services
  • Accounting services
  • Land surveying services
  • Real estate services
  • Funeral services
  • Hotels
  • Motels
  • Retail stores that sell communication technology
  • Retail stores that sell educational material
  • Beer, wine and liquor stores
  • Lawn and garden retailers
  • Newspapers
  • Radio programs
  • Television services
  • Social services providers
  • Delivery services

This is not an exhaustive list. If you are not sure if your business is essential and continue operations, contact our business litigation attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC to gain guidance on your businesses'status and responsibilities under Governor Cooper's executive orders.

What should I do as a business owner?

It is important that you review the Executive Orders carefully and follow all guidelines and guidance from your local health department, the Center for Disease Control and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Specifically, as a business owner you should encourage social distancing. Social distancing under Governor Cooper's executive orders specifically means:

  • Maintaining at least six feet of distance between individuals
  • Washing hands using soap and water for twenty seconds as often as possible or use hand sanitizer often
  • Regularly cleaning high traffic surfaces
  • Promoting online or remote access by customers.

If you maintain a staff, you should encourage and promote teleworking or working remotely from home to every extent possible. You should take all precautions necessary to maintain proper social distancing and encourage your employees to do the same.

If you are unsure about whether or not your business is considered essential under Governor Cooper's executive orders, or if you are taking all necessary steps to meet the "social distancing requirements" to maintain minimum basic operations, contact the skilled and knowledgeable business litigation attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC online or by phone to schedule your consultation today.

What liability is there as a business owner that remains open during the COVID-19 outbreak?

The coronavirus pandemic is a novel situation that has not been seen in this century. This is a situation that is evolving weekly, daily and even hourly. The Center for Disease Control and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services along with local county health departments have issues as much guidance as possible to assist business owners in continuing to operate their businesses safely and in ways that comply with the orders issued by Governor Cooper. Unfortunately, in this ever-evolving situation, there is no clear answer about liability. It is best that you contact a knowledgeable business litigation attorney to discuss your responsibilities and potential liabilities during this state of emergency and the stay at home executive orders issued by Governor Cooper.

Contact an Experienced Business Litigation Attorney

If you have concerns about the impact of COVID-19 and the coronavirus on your business, contact an experienced business litigation attorney in the greater Charlotte area of North Carolina to help you understand your legal rights, and how best protect your business and comply with your responsibilities under the current Executive Orders. Contact an experienced business litigation attorney at Arnold & Smith, PLLC at 704.370.2828 or online today to schedule your consultation.