You'll Have to Do This One Thing Before You Return to Work Amid Coronavirus

A coronavirus waiver may become an essential part of your employment from here on out.

Whether you're signing up for a gym membership or starting a new job, you're probably no stranger to completing a stack of paperwork before you begin. However, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, there's a new form that might top that pile: a coronavirus waiver.

According to a June 14 report from ESPN, football players at Ohio State have been asked to sign a two-page waiver indicating their understanding that they may be exposed to coronavirus during their practices and agreeing to abide by the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These include wearing masks in public and maintaining social distance, self-monitoring for coronavirus symptoms, and self-quarantining if necessary. Similar forms have recently been adopted as requirements for attending a rally, returning to work at the New York Stock Exchange, and working out at certain branches of the YMCA.

"Any activities where it may be challenging to practice social distancing will likely use similar waivers, but be aware that these waivers should not absolve the venue and organizers from still taking recommended national and local precautions to keep people safe," says family physician Monique May, MD.

young asian woman wearing face mask at work

That means that businesses, schools, and workplaces have to do their part to protect you, too. "To be enforceable, [waivers] have to be clear, unambiguous, sufficiently specific as to the risk and not against public policy," explains attorney Marc Lamber, chairperson of the personal injury practice at Fennemore Craig.

That said, proving that you contracted the coronavirus from a particular activity isn't especially easy to prove from a legal standpoint. "Because COVID-19 is so widespread and contagious, has such a long incubation period, and can be spread by people who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, it will be an uphill battle to demonstrate that someone contacted COVID-19 at a business versus all the other possible sources of transmission," explains Lamber.

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May adds that just because businesses and events are using the waivers doesn't mean you should let down your guard. "Be sure to take common sense precautions and social distance and wear masks as much as you can," says May, who also recommends only patronizing businesses that are adhering to the guidelines set out by the CDC.

"If it is not absolutely necessary and the organizers do not adhere to safety recommendations, skip it and opt for virtual options instead," she says. And if you want to know what other changes you can expect to see at work, check out these 5 Things You'll Never See in Your Office Again After Coronavirus.

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