Wisconsin's high court justices pushed a group of restaurants and taverns to explain in a hearing Tuesday how long it took them to recover from COVID-19 closures, with the businesses arguing their insurance policies were "meant to bridge the short-term situation" like short-term disability coverage.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court justices challenged the virus being the cause of the losses as businesses across the country are living with the coronavirus just as cases rise again on the East Coast. The Wisconsin high court said government shutdown orders were the root cause of the losses.
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Marshall Gilinsky of Anderson Kill, co-counsel for the Tavern League of Wisconsin, noted the court's discussion about what life was like in March 2020. He told Law360 the idea that there wasn't a loss "is kind of hard to fathom," pointing out how people wore gloves to avoid surfaces and cleaned packages.
"The fact that we wear masks now doesn't have to do with why businesses lost money in 2020. It was an entirely different environment then. Both physically and economically," he said. "Now you can have a mask mandate and go to a movie theater or restaurant. In March 2020, people didn't do that."
Gilinsky said this business interruption coverage exists "to protect the revenue stream." When courts bring up that owners and employees could enter the premises, Gilinsky said it is the prohibition of customers that matters.
"The customers are the ones fueling the revenue stream," he said.
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