How safe will public spaces be post-lockdown?

Date: May 28, 2020

As the Australian government moves to relax some of its more stringent coronavirus lockdown measures, attention has shifted to just how safe public spheres might be – both right now and in the near future.

Though certain states, like Victoria, are still grappling with widespread, sustained containment of the virus's spread in some of the most at-risk locales, the nation of Australia at large has proven effective at reducing its number of new cases daily, Reuters reported. Its numbers have been substantially better than regions of comparable size through Europe and North America, offering government officials and business owners glimmers of hope for a positive reopening experience.

A transition back to "normal," however, surely won't be without its challenges, especially as it pertains to employees going back to work, consumers resuming their typical shopping behaviour and the majority of people taking public safety as seriously as they should.

Normalising tough rules

As 7News reported, the nation's strict social-distancing rules – put into place to ease the country back into reopening – are proving difficult to implement for many businesses. It's estimated that if every employee who normally worked in Sydney's Australian Square arrived on the job in the morning, it could take two to three hours for everyone to reach their desks.

Restrictions are in place that limit how many people can enter the 16 lifts required to reach each of the 42 floors of the high-rise. Offices have fewer chairs; local lunch spots lead to long lines; communal spaces like kitchens and bathrooms require constant sanitisation.

In a word, business is hardly back to normal.

Safety first

Even as businesses attempt to comply with relevant coronavirus guidelines, it's never easy to enforce building-wide standards of health and distancing. Some workers may be more careful than others; some may unintentionally slip up and not report it. In any case, businesses are responsible for keeping their operations compliant and sanitary to protect themselves against government crackdowns and potential public liability claims levied against them.

Workers who feel pressured to return to the office or the job site, or who encounter risky or uncomfortable work conditions, may file complaints, report indiscretions and resort to online shaming of business owners.

Cutting corners on even one public health guideline can result in substantial financial and reputational risk for companies of every size. Get in touch with Gerard Malouf & Partners to learn more about public liability issues caused by COVID-19.

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