Condo Media - June 2020 - 46

CLEANING, COMMUNICATING,

and Caring

"We're kind of making it up
as we go along," one association
manager confessed.
ASK, BUT DON'T TELL
One of the diciest questions for many
associations is whether to ask (or
require) owners to report if they have
contracted the virus or been exposed
to it, and whether to disclose that
information to other residents. The
consensus advice from condominium
attorneys seems to be: Ask, but don't
tell. Treat the virus information as
you would the discovery that a sexual
predator is living in the community.
Inform residents that the virus
is present, but don't identify the
individuals affected by it.
Apart from the obvious privacy
concerns created by disclosing an
owner's personal information without
permission, Edmund Allcock, CAI-NE's
current president and a partner in
Marcus Errico Emmer & Brooks, P.C.,
notes, disclosure, or the fear of it, could
discourage owners from self-reporting,
making it difficult for associations to take
extra precautions - enhanced sanitation
of common areas, for example - that may
be necessary to protect the community.
While boards have no authority to
require owners to self-report, Allcock
notes, they can ask them to do so. "I'm
advising clients to err on the side of
collecting the information, but not
sharing it," he says.
McNabb is following that advice at
Brook House. "We've asked people
to report so we can provide special
services - food or package delivery -
to people who need them."
The board at one of the communities
Patricia Brawley, CMCA, AMS, PCAM,
principal in Central Management
and Consulting Services, is managing
has likewise sent a letter encouraging
owners to report exposure or infection
"so we can do additional sanitizing," she
says, but with no intention of making
the information public.

46

CONDOMEDIA June 2020

CAI is advising boards "to distribute
as much information to the community
as possible about the steps the board
is taking to protect residents and the
steps residents can take to protect
themselves" and also urging boards
to develop emergency plans or review
existing ones, to tailor them for managing the pandemic. These plans should
be developed "in consultation with legal
counsel, insurance and risk management experts, and [association managers]," CAI emphasizes.
A COMMITTEE FOR CARING
One of Allcock's clients - a 147-unit
complex in Woburn - has formed a
"Compassionate Care Committee"
to help residents who have been
quarantined, or are self-quarantining,
because of the virus. "They are gearing
up to buy groceries, deliver mail and
packages, run necessary errands, walk
dogs, remove trash, and maintain
communication with [affected]
residents, to ease their feelings of
isolation," he notes.
"This is a nice example of a community coming together," Allcock noted.
"I am encouraged and proud to see
such positive community outreach
during these difficult times," he added.
"I think what this community is doing
should become a model for community associations in New England
and nationally."
Associations will necessarily approach their pandemic management
differently, depending on their size,
their configuration, their resources,
and their demographics. But the priority for all should be protecting their
residents, industry executives agree.
At Brook House, McNabb responded
almost immediately to the pandemic
reports by implementing a schedule
for cleaning and disinfecting common
areas (see related sidebar on page 49)
and closing the community's health
club - primarily to prevent owners
from congregating in a small space,
he says, but also to conserve the association's resources. "Cleaning door
handles, stairway railings, and the ele-

vator was a priority," he says. "Cleaning
the treadmill was not." Some owners
criticized that decision initially, "but in
a few days, as public and private gyms
began to close, I started to get more
thanks than criticism."
Encouraging residents to maintain
the recommended six feet of social
distance has also been a priority.
"We try not to be heavy-handed about
it," McNabb says, but he has instructed
security guards to monitor the cameras and to ask owners who are gathering - in the laundry room, for example
- to disperse.
Elevators pose a particular challenge.
The complex has 11 elevators, and
McNabb has posted signs in all of them
saying only one passenger - or only
one group of passengers from the same
household - should be in a car at a time.
The signs, he says, reduce the "awkwardness" of having one resident inform others that they must wait their turn.
The rule hasn't created as many
problems as you might assume,
McNabb says. "Most people are on
board with this," he notes. "Some
are using this as an opportunity to
get more exercise and are taking the
stairs." The fact that most residents
are staying in their homes has significantly reduced elevator traffic, he says,
making the one-passenger-at-a-time
requirement less disruptive than it
might otherwise be.



Condo Media - June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Condo Media - June 2020

Contents
Condo Media - June 2020 - Cover1
Condo Media - June 2020 - Cover2
Condo Media - June 2020 - Contents
Condo Media - June 2020 - 2
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Condo Media - June 2020 - Cover3
Condo Media - June 2020 - Cover4
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