Announcer: The following segment is sponsored by Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.
Interviewer: Just recently, Texas’ governor announced that the State of Texas would end the mandate requiring citizens to wear masks, as well as restrictions on businesses, allowing them to re-open at 100% capacity. The State of Mississippi followed shortly after, announcing a similar plan ending mask mandates. And now, it appears other states are joining in or planning to do that once the warmer weather arrives.
So, what happens if these relaxed restrictions migrate to New York, and do new businesses have any liability if they don’t enforce their own safety measures? Here to help discuss this legal issue and your rights is managing partner, Paul Harding, from the law firm of Martin Harding & Mazzotti. So Paul, should we be concerned that methods being adopted in states like Texas and Mississippi might migrate to New York, and then set us back again?
Paul: We still have our travel restrictions, so you can’t come into the state any differently than you did. We know that the vaccine is working its way through the process. Maybe up to 20% of people have their second vaccine, I think, at the end of this week. But what the issue is here, is the states make their decision what they want to do. It’s not a federal guideline, it is not a federal rule, but the states make their decisions. So, what we’re gonna see here as we open, and we are gonna open, people are gonna say, “Too slow, too fast,” right? So, there’s gonna be that. We’re gonna hear a lot of it, and this is the beginning of that.
Interviewer: Okay. So, in Texas, we have seen some businesses announcing events like mask-off parties. If attendees get sick in an event like this, do business owners have any liability?
Paul: They don’t. You go to a mask-off party, you should have the memo that there’s masks off, right? So, if you get a COVID-related disease, the assumption that the risk takes absolutely over this entire thing. But what we’ve really found is that there’s really no liability at all for these business owners. If they comply, even don’t comply, you know, proving that someone got COVID at a location through an event is virtually impossible. So, we don’t really see many liability things. It’s a reasonable thing. Do what’s reasonable, protect yourself. Go where you have the best chance of being the most comfortable.
Interviewer: Are there repercussions for businesses that choose to follow the Texas model and fail to abide by restrictions that are still in place in New York?
Paul: Yeah. If you’re in Texas, go knock yourself out. If you’re here, you risk up to a $10,000 fine. You could lose your liquor license, and even more importantly, they post the names of the restaurants in the newspaper, or online. So, it’s not exactly gonna increase business, well.
Interviewer: If you’d like to follow along with this topic or some of the others that we’ve followed, head over to our website, cbs6albany.com.