COVID-19 forms, waivers for consumers to sign becoming more common at Chicago-area businesses before entry

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It's becoming increasingly common for businesses to ask customers to sign a COVID-19 questionnaire or waiver before entering, but what do these forms mean and could there be legal consequences?

The COVID-19 forms are popping up at businesses across the Chicago area, but because the virus is so unpredictable, some wonder if signing is the smart things to do.

The questionnaires and disclosures typically ask consumers about their health status and recent activity. Some of the forms ask things like "Have you had close contact with persons who may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 14 days?" or "Do you have a sore throat?"

They may seem bizarre now, but attorney Andrew Goldberg said it's likely you'll have to sign one before being serviced at a business, and it's imperative customers answer honestly.

"If you're signing a questionnaire and not being honest about it, then you're committing potentially a crime because you could be infecting someone with a disease," Goldberg said. "And if you're lying about your condition then you could be doing it knowingly, and that's a problem."

What if you don't know you have COVID-19 when you sign the form, and then later find out you're positive? Can the business sue?

"If you're honest, then your risks of being liable or responsible for someone else getting sick are pretty low," Goldberg explained. "Whether or not you can be sued depends on how easily that business can track the illness of their employee back to you. So I think it'd be very difficult for a customer to be found responsible for someone else's COVID."

He said the businesses most likely to have these forms are salons, barbers, medical centers, spas and medical providers, because they're in closer contact with you. Goldberg said some businesses may even ask customers to sign a waiver, which states if you're entering their business you're doing so at your own risk.

But signing a waiver doesn't mean the business can blow off safety measures.

"Every business is responsible for protecting its consumers," Goldberg said. "No waiver is going to absolve the business from taking the necessary steps that are required in order for it to protect its customer."

As with any legal document, attorneys say if you don't understand the form or if you're unsure about it, don't sign.
Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.