READING, Pa - Small businesses in Berks County that are thinking about reopening in the days and weeks ahead, as the county remains under a stay-at-home order, are facing never-before-seen circumstances.
"The real problem is the governor is threatening licensure," said Joel Ready, an attorney with Cornerstone Law Firm, "so even if the district attorneys are saying they're not going to prosecute, a lot of businesses that have liquor licenses, hair salon licenses, even attorneys offices, are really not sure if the governor will be successful in challenging their licenses."
It could come down to a case by case basis in terms of what businesses are taking the least amount of risk when it comes to reopening.
"Hair salons may have more trouble because they typically have to prove that their environment is healthy as opposed to, for example, a real estate agent who goes around showing houses and can practice social distancing," said Ready.
Another thing for owners to consider: even if the governor doesn't come after you, insurance companies might.
"Insurance contracts typically prohibit a business from acting illegally or operating illegally," Ready said. "Well, is this illegal? Obviously, an insurance company is gonna argue that it is if there's a slip-and-fall on the property during this."
Among so many other unforeseen elements, the legal ramifications of the global pandemic could linger for some time.
"I think that the problems are going to be continued to be worked out in courts potentially for years after this," Ready said, "and that's what makes it a little bit scary for businesses."