Governor Abbot Issues Executive Order to Reopen Businesses in Texas

April 28, 2020
Governor Abbot Issues Executive Order to Reopen Businesses in Texas

Yesterday, Texas Governor Greg Abbot issued an Executive Order in response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. Executive Order GA-18 is part of a strategic, multi-phase reopening plan to help address businesses affected by shelter-in-place orders. The first phase of this reopening plan begins Friday, May 1, 2020.

According to a press release issued by the Governor’s office, “Under Phase I, certain services and activities are allowed to open with limited occupancy, and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is issuing minimum standard health protocols for all businesses and individuals to follow.” Phase I allows “reopened services,” such as dine-in restaurants, to reopen their doors for business. However, many of these “reopened services” must limit their capacity to 25% of their total listed occupancy.

Executive Order GA-18 authorizes businesses to provide “reopened services” starting at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 1, 2020:

        ·       “Reopened services” – not subject to the 25% occupancy rule – include services that may be provided through pickup, delivery by mail, or delivery to the customer’s doorstep.

        ·       “Reopened Services” – subject to the 25% occupancy rule – include:

o   In-store retail services;

o   Dine-in restaurant services;

o   Movie theaters;

o   Shopping malls, provided food-court, play areas, and interactive displays must remain closed;

o   Museum and libraries; and

o   Services provided by an individual working alone in an office.  

Counties with five or fewer cases of COVID-19 may allow “reopened services” to operate at 50% of the total listed occupancy.

To help assess the effectiveness of this reopening plan, officials say it is critical to continue monitoring the spread of COVID-19 through a newly developed statewide “testing and contact tracing program.” During Governor Abbot’s press conference, the Governor explained how this program “will help identify individuals who have contracted COVID-19 and those who may need to quarantine or be tested due to potential exposure. This phased implementation will allow Texans to box in the virus and slow, or even stop, further spread.”

Moving forward, many businesses may reopen this Friday – with the expectation that they comply with certain occupancy rules and health standards promulgated by the Texas DSHS.

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.