How to Combat the Risks of Reopening
When the severity of the coronavirus became apparent this past spring, many community associations responded by shutting down their common area recreational facilities, whether required by governmental order or not. As time has passed and governmental restrictions have been rolled back, they’ve had to figure out how to proceed with their facilities.
Making facilities available to owners again isn’t without its risks, even where lawful. “Just because you can legally open doesn’t necessarily mean you should unless you can do it properly,” says Kevin Hirzel, managing member of Hirzel Law, PLC, a Michigan-based firm that works with community associations.
The good news is that the staggered lifting of governmental orders across the country has provided some valuable lessons for those in the slower-opening areas — lessons that also could come in handy in the event of a recurrence. “You’re never going to be able to completely reduce all liability,” Hirzel says, “but certainly there are steps you can take.”
“Probably the most significant point of concern is whether a facility or activity, particularly a fitness center, will create additional demands on sanitation — whether it’s really feasible to reopen with requests that people wipe down machines after use, etc.,” says attorney Michael Kim, of counsel with Schoenberg Finkel Newman & Rosenberg, LLC, in Chicago. “If you make it self-clean, people might not act responsibly.”
Hirzel also believes that that health and safety concerns should be the top priority. He suggests consulting with professionals on the cleaning that must be done. “If an association doesn’t have it in the budget to cover those costs and isn’t willing to do a special assessment, it should reconsider opening”
To learn about more the potential risks associated with reopening facilities, as well as some measures to help reduce them, read our new article, Proceed with Caution: What to Consider When Reopening Facilities.