What You Need to Know About Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act

On August 5, 2020, Governor Kemp signed into law SB 359 – Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act. This Act protects covered entities from being held liable if a person contracts COVID-19, except in instances where the covered entity acts with gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm. Absent a showing of gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm, there is a presumption that an individual assumes the risk of contracting COVID-19. Entity has been broadly defined and includes associations, companies, corporations, and partnerships to name a few. It also covers individuals such as partners, officers, directors, managers, and independent contractors. For the full definition of entity, please see the attached – lines 51-57.
 
There is a presumption that an individual assumes the risk of catching COVID-19 when either (or both) of the following occurs:
 
1. There is a receipt or proof of purchase for entry which can include but is not limited electronic tickets, paper tickets or wristbands with the following warning in at least 10 point Arial font:
Any person entering the premises waives all civil liability against this premises owner and operator for any injuries caused by the inherent risk associated with contracting COVID-19 at public gatherings, except for gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm, by the individual or entity of the premises. 
 

​2. An individual or entity of the premises has posted at a point of entry, if present, to the premises, a sign in at least one-inch Arial font placed apart from any other text, a written warning stating the following:​

Under Georgia law, there is no liability for an injury or death of an individual entering these premises if such injury or death results from the inherent risks of contracting COVID-19. You are assuming this risk by entering these premises. 
 
What can you do to ensure that you are protected under this Act? First, continue to adhere to social distancing guidelines, wear masks, use and offer hand-sanitizer to those with whom you come in contact, and clean surfaces that may be used by multiple people frequently. Actions such as these indicate that the entity is acting with care – not with gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm. 
 
Second, all business offices make a sign with the above warning in #2 (ex:Template of Sign for Business Entry Points) and post it at the point of entry for the business. If there are multiple entries, it can only help to post the sign at every entry. In order to fit the warning on the sign in the stipulated font size, a poster approximately 18 inches x 24 inches will need to be made. Attached is a basic template that matches the legal requirements for an entity to be protected. 
 
Lastly, for events or meetings that may occur outside of your physical office, or for those who may not even have a physical office, consider printing tickets or wristbands to hand to those who attend. This warning could be printed or affixed to the back of a business card or sent to attendees electronically with registration. 
 
Taking the above precautions protects entities from liability as they go back to business as well as those who come in contact with entities by placing individuals on clear notice. 

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