Governor Abbot Issues Executive Order Superseding Dallas Shelter-in-Place Order

April 1, 2020
Governor Abbot Issues Executive Order Superseding Dallas Shelter-in-Place Order

Yesterday, Governor Greg Abbot issued an Executive Order in response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. This new order supersedes all prior shelter-in-place orders in Texas, including the Dallas County “Stay Home Stay Safe Order,” and provides guidance on what constitutes “essential services” in Texas. This order takes effect April 2, 2020 and is currently set to expire April 30, 2020.

The order provides:
·       “Every person in Texas shall, except where necessary to provide or obtain essential services, minimize social gatherings and minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household.”

·      Essential services” shall consist of everything listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 2.0, plus religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship.”

·         “In particular, all services should be provided through remote telework from home unless they are essential services that cannot be provided through remote telework.”

·         “This executive order does not prohibit people from accessing essential services or engaging in essential daily activities, such as going to the grocery store or gas station, providing or obtaining other essential services, visiting parks, hunting or fishing, or engaging in physical activity like jogging or bicycling, so long as the necessary precautions are maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and to minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household.”

·         “In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, schools shall remain temporarily closed to in-person classroom attendance and shall not recommence before May 4, 2020.”

·         “This executive order shall supersede any conflicting order issued by local officials in response to the COVID-19 disaster, but only to the extent that such a local order restricts essential services allowed by this executive order or allows gatherings prohibited by this executive order.”

This new Executive Order replaces “essential businesses” – the exception to the prior Dallas County shelter-in-place order – with “essential services,” as defined by the guidance issued by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Accordingly, all Texas have been ordered to stay at home unless performing “essential services” (e.g. providing health care), accessing “essential services” (e.g. going to the grocery store), or performing “essential activities” (e.g. going for a walk at the park).

While this new Executive Order is largely consistent with the prior Dallas County shelter-in-place order, the Governor’s Order provides uniformity to all counties in Texas. This uniformity helps settle some of the controversy surrounding the various orders issues by counties like Collin County, which deemed “all businesses are essential.” In light of Governor Abbot’s Executive Order, Collin County Judge Chris Hill rescinded his order deeming all business essential.

Please do not hesitate to contact Simon Whiting directly at (214) 740-3119, if you need any assistance interpreting the new Executive Order and how it may affect your business.