Wednesday felt like a breaking point. The day when COVID-19 seemed to come out from under your office desk and said “You’re surrounded. Go home.”
NBA – Suspending its season indefinitely.
Schools in Fairfield County – Closed with the likelihood that more schools will follow soon.
Tom Hanks – Another COVID-19 victim.
Of course, this isn’t impacting everywhere at the same time. But it seems that several businesses are starting to contemplate severe restrictions in their workplace. (Update: Thursday morning, Governor Lamont recommended that all businesses try to have employees work from home ASAP.) Sure, many businesses will stay open or try to; we’ll need markets, pharmacies and utilities just to name a few. But those businesses that can try to minimize their workplace interactions, probably will — or at least try to move to a remote-only workplace.
Even the courts are now getting into the act by showing how the virus is going to impact litigation.
The Hartford Superior Court issued an order today making all conferences via telephone and telling parties that hearings/trials will be automatically postponed 3 months with a coronavirus reason.
And even that seems optimistic.
Some lawyers are making promises that their business will continue as normal.
I can’t see it that way.
The fact is we’ve never experienced anything like this in our lifetimes. Working remotely for a few days is one thing.
But will we be working remotely for two weeks? Two months? A year?
Employers will face critical tests to their businesses and this will test their patience and their reserves. Mass layoffs don’t seem far off. Employment litigation will be on hold for the time being. Extensions of time will be as common as, well, a cold.
Of course, at some point, we’re going to get back to normal. A new normal to be sure, but history shows us that pandemics — even the worst of them — recede.
The days, weeks, and months ahead will pose unique legal questions for us all to consider. Questions that we never thought we’d have to address like: When things improve, can we institute temperature checks on people entering the workplace?
But I appreciate being the trusted advisor to so many. Over the last few weeks, we’ve already tackled a bunch of issues together.
And so, whatever struggles we will go through, we can continue to do it together.