Governments face balancing risks as decisions need to be made

Governments across the world are wrestling with the need to chart a path out of the current COVID-19 restrictions.

As vaccination programmes ramp up and lockdown measures start to reduce infection rates businesses are calling for a return to the new normal as the global economy continues to suffer.

The world’s airlines have urged clarity on whether travel will be re-opened for the northern hemisphere summer, while hotels, and hospitality sectors worldwide have been warning that unless the restrictions are eased there will be little or any hospitality available when the world is finally able to access it.

While the projections around infection rates and the number of people who are tragically dying from the disease are all heading in the right direction, for risk managers and their insurance providers there are serious questions to consider.

If, and when, in the coming days or weeks it is announced restrictions will be eased risk managers will be tasked with ensuring workplaces are safe for a return to work, for those that are required and willing to return. The looming issue of liability should an employee contract the virus during their journey to or from work or in the workplace remain real.

Insurers will be asked for clarity on the protection they will provide for employers and therein lies another dilemma for the market given the business interruption disaster they have suffered in the past 12 months. It is a debacle for which the industry is still paying the price with businesses and individuals now viewing the industry as having a worse reputation than the one it had enjoyed, if that is the right word, prior to the pandemic.

If governments around the world allow their populations to resume travel and tourism it will be a welcome shot in the arm for the airlines and the hospitality firms, but again will provide health and travel insurers with decisions to make. It may well be that airlines and tourisms centres look to provide cover for travellers as was seen during parts of 2020.

The issue remains that governments, under pressure to ease restrictions are balancing that decision with the need to ensure that infection rates do not take another turn for the worse.

Whatever the result risk managers and insurers are caught between a rock and hard place.

If, and when, in the coming days or weeks it is announced restrictions will be eased risk managers will be tasked with ensuring workplaces are safe for a return to work, for those that are required and willing to return.

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