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There is a lot of panic and uncertainty (fear) at this time in the United States and across the world. For one, we think we know about this virus, but it is not clear that we do. Some say it is a strain of 3 viruses and that you can test NEGATIVE for the virus, but still be a CARRIER (and infect other people). This is causing the United States government, and many individual states to start taking precautions to protect the life of its citizens. Here are some questions from what I call "The Legal Side of the Corona Virus." Make sure to SUBSCRIBE to our popular YouTube channel (nearly 20 subscribers and over 2 million video views) to receive important legal-related updates that have to do with the Coronavirus (Covid 19).
1. Is the virus a "pandemic" that will grow larger in time and impact more people (with governmental "stay in place" or "lockdown orders?"
2. Could this lead to marshall law in the United States with curfews?
3. Can the government legally force your bar, restaurant or nightclub (or other small business establishments) to shut down, at risk of defaulting on loans, contracts, and forcing massive layoffs?
4. Can you use the "Force Majuere" clause to get out of your contracts (acts of god make the performance of a contract impracticable, illegal, etc.)?
5. Will employers be held liable for wrongful death, or serious injuries caused if an employee contracts the Covid-19 virus (by being forced to come to work)?
6. Can you be prosecuted criminally for failure to adhere to "social distancing" laws?
7. Can you be forced to send your kids to school?
8. How will the homeless be handled, should the government be forced to house them in safe and sanitary conditions (even if perhaps this is against their will)?
9. Can employers monitor remote employees?
10. How will wage and hour, breaks, vacations, and family paid leave be affected with work-from-home-employees?
11. Will there be bans on residential evictions in your city or county like there is in Los Angeles, Culver City and San Francisco?
12. Can you be put in jail (misdemeanor) for violating the 6 foot social distancing rule now in place in many areas?
13. Can the local, state and federal government impair the "obligation of contracts."
14. If there is a "main street bailout" ($1,000 dollar checks) and you do not "qualify" for one (i.e. you make too much money) will this create a class action lawsuit for violation of equal protection of the law?
15. In Orange County, California, they are prohibiting "public gatherings" - does this violate your constitutional right to "association" and "peaceful assembly."
16. Will we be back into "bailouts" (picking winners and losers, "too big to fail")? If so, who is deserving? Small businesses? Airlines? Casinos? Hotels?
17. Does banning admission to bars, restaurants, taverns, nightclubs (places that sell liquor), violate the constitution? Remember, it was once illegal to sell liquor (prohibition) but a constitutional amendment changed that. Now, it appears these establishments are being temporarily banned from selling their products.
18. Do local, county, state and federal laws, rules, regulations and executive orders that essentially ban a person from operating their business at their location, does this constitute a "taking" (regulatory taking) pursuant to eminent domain laws, requiring the government to pay "just compensation?"
19. If you are forced to "home school" your college or university classes (I know one person who is in Ivy league law school and now forced to take classes from home), which to me sucks because being there and interacting with others is part of what you are paying for, do you deserve a tuition credit of some sort? I think they should as you are not getting everything you bargained for.
These are just the top legal issues that come to my mind. My page will focus on California and Arizona law where I am licensed.
Public Laws and Announcements
San Francisco "Stay Put" Order NOW IN EFFECT 3/17/20. Misdemeanor to violate law.
VIDEO: Watch Attorney Steve® explain an overview of the new San Francisco County order to "stay put." Make sure to SUBSCRIBE to our legal channel and join nearly 20,000 people across the world who love our legal videos.
California Issues Statewide "Stay in Place Order" - This is UNPRECEDENTED!
Breaking Contracts - "Force Majeure"
VIDEO: Watch Attorney Steve® explain how to potentially break contracts with a "Force Majeure" contractual clause. Make sure to SUBSCRIBE to our legal channel and join nearly 20,000 people across the world who love our legal videos.
Attorney Steve® Top 10 Tips for beating this Global Pandemic
1. Don't Panic - things can seem really crazy right now as you can see news about the Coronavirus / Covid (aka "China virus") on all news media 24/7. Do not let this panic you. Panic can be seen in your face and it makes other people panic. This is not something that will do any good. Try to relax. Take a deep breath (two full minutes of deep breaths is something I have found that relaxes me when I get a little edgy). In fact, aside from trying to get basic information (see my CDC and WHO links below), I would not spend too much time obsessing as there is not a whole lot you can do.
2. Stay health / boost your immune - right now is a good time to start on new habits that can boost your immune system. This helps your body stay strong so you can fight diseases. While I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice, things that have worked for me include maintaining a good diet (lots of fruits and vegetables, low sugar and alcohol intake, Vitamin C and D, and good exercise. Exercise can release "endorphines" that make your mind and body feel good. Get out once a day and take a walk, work out in your home gym (you can get a low cost exercise bike or lift some light weights). Moving around makes you feel good and works our your heart and diet and exercise together can be helpful to stay strong.
3. Follow the rules - this is no time to try to "out-think the experts" or to try to be a Maverick doing your own thing. A lot of really smart people are working overtime to try to get this situation under control. Listen to them. Follow the rules, ordinances, guidelines, executive orders etc. These are being issued for your own good. If you are not sure of your legal obligations, especially when it comes to running your business, have legal counsel review the laws at issue and get an interpretation. But for the most part, we are in a time of emergency so we have to trust in others (including elected officials) to try to help us.
4. Rely only on GOOD INFORMATION - everyone knows there is a ton of "fake news" out on the internet and unsubstantiated statements, unverified reports, false prophets and the like. In this time, it is more important than ever NOT to share false information. Everyone has an opinion about the Coronavirus and that is fine, some think it is not real (a political interference nearing election time and a move to stop President Trump from being re-elected), while others think "the sky is falling and we are all doing to die." Follow trusted sites like the CDC and WHO. Do not post or share false information, especially if you know it to be false. This could lead to legal problems despite your first amendment protections (remember, you cannot yell "fire in a crowded theater" if there is no fire). So, be careful spreading false information on your twitter, facebook, youtube, or other social media accounts. This is not the time to goof around.
5. Don't obsess with NEWS - again, in line with what I have said above, there is not much you can do other than be vigilant, know what the rules are, listen to the bona fide experts but do not overly obsess with following the news. Virtually all media channels are covering this 24/7 day and night and this can be overload. Many times media just repeats itself over and over. If you watch or listen too much, you may start to feel a pit grow in your stomach, and you may start to feel gloomy, depressed, or become panicked. This is not good, especially if you have kids who are looking at your face trying to decide how to act. Just get a "spoonful of news" each night and let that be sufficient. If something is really important, you will likely hear about it as news travels in a nanosecond these days. Let someone else do the worrying. You live your life.
6. Have fun - just because we are going through time times as a planet, does not mean the world has to end, or that you have to sulk and worry though this whole journey. You have no choice of what happens in life, but you DO have the power to decide how you want to react. This is the power of choice, and the power of self determination. You can choose to let this eat you up inside, or you can choose to stay positive, make the best of it, and even see the silver linings in this. So continue to enjoy your life. While many sporting events and public events are being cancelled, you can spend time with your family. Play games, take a walk, grow a garden, play with your dog, write a book, grow your podcast or start your YouTube channel. There are many things you can do to enjoy life even in the face of something like this.
7. Be nice to people when you are "stocking up" - you hear stories of people turning savage in grocery stores and fighting over toilet paper, water, sanitizers, beans, rice, fruits, vegetables for example. But folks, let's not turn this into the Titanic hear and push people out of boats. This is a time to be civil. Buy what you need to protect yourself, but don't turn into a savage. Be kind, respectful, smile and talk to people.
8. Stay in Contact with family / friends (share information) - one thing I have done recently which was really cool was to setup a conference call with family members. We shared information and ideas, tips, and had occasion to laugh and share theories on what's going on, how long this will last, and basically just felt good talking to each-other realizing life is great, and we will all stay positive and get through this, likely better than we all were before. Try to consider setting up a call with loved ones or old friends you haven't talked to in a while. You might be surprised of the therapeutic value this has for all involved.
9. Help others who may be struggling - everyone handles crises differently. Some are leaders, some are followers, some get scared, some get panicked and freak out, some get depressed and want to hide in a hole. Recognize what is going on with other people, and if you see someone down, or struggling, see if you can do something to help them be strong. Make them laugh, tell a joke, ask them a question (talk to them), give then $10 if they need some help. Helping others can be a very great thing as it is good for them, and will make you feel good.
10. See the "silver linings" - folks, we will get through this (unless of course we don't) and if we don't, then I suppose that is our destiny. But, I feel strongly that we will. We have experts working overtime to strategically tackle this Covid 19 disease. We have to trust them and trust the process right now. If you apply some of the tips above, you may start to see some "silver linings" emerging from all this. You may pickup healthy eating habits, you may start exercising more, you may start being friendlier to people or find yourself contacting friends and family more often (whether by phone, email, text, etc), and you may find yourself through prayer, or mediation, or find yourself growing stronger because you battled this out and beat it. So, see the silver linings in your own life - they are there - you just have to look for them. As they say, "everything happens for a reason" (and we do not always get to know the reasons) but we shall overcome and emerge into a new greater light.
Here are some helpful links to keep you informed of some of the key issues and resources available.
1. Center for Disease Control ("CDC")
2. President Trump's guidelines - 15 Days to Slow the Spread
4. World Health Organization ("WHO")
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