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Coronavirus waivers may become new normal for businesses

Posted at 5:31 PM, Jun 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-11 11:10:46-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - As businesses continue to reopen, it's becoming the newest requirement for entry: your signature.

Step into any of three Gila Rut salons in the county, and you'll see COVID-19 safety is being taken seriously. Clients' temperatures are taken. Their hands are sanitized. Their personal effects are placed in a bag. In another bag is everything needed for their appointment, from combs to scissors.

"So they can feel comfortable that when they sit down, everything has been sanitized for them," said Gila Rut President Keri Davis-Duffy.

Inside the salon: masks, social distancing, and capes disposed of after each appointment. The owners are intent on protecting clients, staff and also, the business. A day head of an appointment, clients are emailed a waiver.

"They have to sign a waiver releasing Gila Rut of any liability should anybody contract COVID-19," said David-Duffy.

Davis-Duffy is hardly alone. At the Point Loma Sports Club, set to open Friday, a liability waiver is also required before you can enter. Across the county and country, at salons, gyms, offices and even the New York Stock Exchange, waivers are quietly becoming the new normal. It's unclear how much they're really needed. Attorneys tell us it would be hard to prove a business caused an illness. and the waivers don't protect a business against 'gross neglience.'

"If someone signs a waiver, that means they agree not to hold someone else responsible for any damages. What we're seeing here are businesses trying to avoid liability when a patron is exposed to covid-19 at their place of business. Waivers are not, however, ironclad. For a business to be protected, the business must show that such a waiver was signed and that it covers the potential claim. Even if a business shows that, a waiver is invalid if the business was grossly negligent or reckless. Also, a person could challenge a waiver by claiming it was signed under duress or that it was unconscionable," said attorney Evan Walker.

For Davis-Duffy, the waiver is simply another precaution.

"We're in a vulnerable business ... We just want to make sure we're protecting are business and create some sense of sustainability," said David-Duffy.

Davis-Duffy says all but a handful of clients have agreed to sign the waiver.