Condo Media - July 2020 - 23

SAFE HARBOR
Like Moriarty, Uitti thinks "tracking
what local, state, and federal officials
are saying will provide a safe harbor"
for a board's decisions either to limit
or expand access to amenities. But,
he advises boards to check with their
insurance carrier to determine what
coverage they have, if any, for
potential negligence claims arising
from pandemic-related decisions.
"Boards that don't have coverage
should see what they can do to
get it," he suggests.
Communities will approach the
reopening of closed amenities in different ways with different policies. Most
will probably decide to reopen closed
facilities, at least to some extent, with
protocols in place to reduce infection
risks. "People who are uncomfortable
using a community's gym can stay
home," Hughes notes.
Most of the communities his
company manages are doing phased
or "soft" re-openings. "None are
just carte-blanche opening their
doors," he notes. "Some are requiring residents to sign up to limit the
number of people in the room,
so they can maintain social distancing." Others are putting tape across
some of the equipment to prevent
people from getting too close to each
other. One community is using its
online portal for scheduling slots in
the gym, only allowing four people
in the room at a time. "When one
group finishes, someone from the
maintenance staff goes in and cleans
the equipment" before the next
group arrives.
Boards are trying to balance the
desire of owners to use community
amenities with the reality that the
virus hasn't disappeared, infection
remains a risk, and "some pandemic
protocols will have to be continued,"
Hughes says. Whatever boards decide
about these post-pandemic protocols,
they should communicate clearly with
owners, he emphasizes. "Owners may
not like the decisions, but they will
appreciate knowing what to expect."

As pandemic lockdowns are lifted
or eased, boards will presumably end
restrictions that barred vendors (and
other third parties) from entering the
community. At least initially and probably for some time, "they will want to
ensure that workers have been properly screened for the virus," Uitti says.
"Boards will also want to ensure that
contractors have appropriate sanitization measures in place and policies
requiring social distancing" to protect
workers and residents. "This will be no
different than insisting on a certificate of
liability insurance," Uitti says. "It reduces
the board's potential liability," and reduces infection risks for residents.
PERMANENT CHANGES?
Some of the temporary policies and
protocols boards adopted to deal
with the pandemic may become
permanent, among them:
Remote meetings. Boards and managers have discovered that conference
calls and distance meeting technologies,
such as Zoom, can replace at least some
of their in-person meetings. "We were
getting a lot of requests for document
amendments to permit electronic meetings and electronic voting before the
pandemic," Moriarty says. "I expect that
trickle will become a watershed."
Package delivery. Boards that required
deliveries to be left in lobbies or designated areas outside of the building to
limit infection risks may decide that "the
fewer people allowed in the building the
better" also makes sense as a security
measure, Hughes predicts.
Contract terms. The need to renegotiate contracts - to reduce services, delay,
or cancel planned projects - may lead
boards to ensure that future contracts
contain language covering pandemiclike events, industry attorneys predict.
Budgeting. The struggle to cover
pandemic expenses may establish or
increase contingency or 'rainy-day'
funds to cover unanticipated increases

in operating costs, Jill Wettmore-Piken,
CMCA, AMS, general manager with
Barkan Management Company, Inc.,
AMO, predicts. She also thinks they may
"order essential supplies" such as cleaning agents "more aggressively" so they
don't get close to running out.
FOR BETTER OR WORSE
Some pandemic legacies for community
associations may be more or less welcome than others. On the welcome side:
Hughes has found that residents have
been more appreciative of the efforts of
managers. "We've gotten emails and text
messages from owners and board members, saying how much they appreciate
what we're doing to take care of them."
Wetmore has noticed the same response. "Owners have been less critical
of managers and board members and
kinder to front line staff working every
day." Will that last beyond the pandemic? "I hope so," she says.
On the less welcome side of the postpandemic ledger: Efforts to identify residents who were ill and/or quarantined,
who might need assistance, along with
a perceived need to identify contagion
risks in a community, led some boards
to ask owners, or insist, that they selfreport if they had contracted the virus
or been exposed to it. Some industry
executives fear that the demand for personal information could be considered
acceptable in the future, triggering concerns about privacy rights and questions
about how far boards can or should go
to protect communities from perceived
threats - medical or otherwise.
Moriarty doesn't think this is a likely
trend or a serious threat. In dealing
with the pandemic, he notes, "most
boards have pushed back [appropriately] and successfully" against owners'
demands that would violate privacy
rights. "We have to be vigilant," he
agrees. "There is always the possibility that if rights are eroded during an
emergency, they won't come back after
the emergency has passed. But Lincoln
suspended Habeas Corpus during the
Civil War," he notes. "And we still have
those protections today."
July 2020 CONDOMEDIA

23



Condo Media - July 2020

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Contents
Condo Media - July 2020 - Cover1
Condo Media - July 2020 - Cover2
Condo Media - July 2020 - Contents
Condo Media - July 2020 - 2
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