Businesses should carefully review the state and local guidance to ensure compliance with the evolving requirements.
As widely reported in the media, there has been an increase in positive COVID-19 cases in the state of Texas. As a result, on June 26, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott issued a new executive order limiting certain business and services in an effort to contain the spread.
As discussed in our previous Alert, Governor Abbott warned businesses there would be additional restrictions if the COVID-19 positivity rate increased above 10 percent, a benchmark that Texas has surpassed.
Governor Abbott ordered all bars and similar establishments to close for in-establishment service by 12:00 p.m. on June 26, 2020, but has permitted them to remain open for delivery and takeout as otherwise permitted by law. Restaurants, however, will be limited to 50 percent in-person dining capacity, effective June 29, 2020. Additional restrictions include closing rafting and tubing businesses, and requiring local governments to approve outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people.
Local municipalities have also taken additional measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
On June 22, 2020, Texas’ capital city, Austin, ordered all businesses to require facemasks for all individuals entering the premises and when in public spaces. The city of Austin also renewed restrictions on gatherings of 10 or more people.
Effective June 17, 2020, businesses in Bexar County, home to San Antonio, must require employees and patrons to wear face masks while in public spaces and to follow health and safety guidance. Furthermore, the order prohibits outside gatherings of 100 or more people.
Dallas County also followed suit and enacted a similar order. Effective June 19, 2020, businesses are required to adopt a health and safety plan, which must include, at a minimum, the requirement “that all employees or visitors to the commercial entity’s business premises or other facilities wear face coverings… where six feet of separation is not feasible.”
On June 19, 2020, Harris County, home to Houston, issued a new order similarly requiring businesses to prepare health and safety protocols including a mandate that individuals wear face masks while on commercial premises that necessitate close proximity to others. Interestingly, however, this order only extends through June 30, 2020, where most of the other orders extend through July and August.
In addition to the above referenced counties, Tarrant, Hidalgo, El Paso and Cameron counties have issued similar orders. Though most local orders require, at a minimum, face masks while on commercial premises, some orders go further. Businesses should carefully review the state and local guidance to ensure compliance with the evolving requirements.
About Duane Morris
Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.
For More Information
If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact Eve I. Klein, Meredith Gregston, any member of the COVID-19 Strategy Team or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.
Disclaimer: This Alert has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm's full disclaimer.