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Reopening Texas: Governor Abbott’s May 18 and 26 Executive Orders

May 29th, 2020 by David Minces

On May 5, Governor Abbott began taking steps to reopen Texas businesses at a limited capacity. We wrote about the highlights of that Executive Order here. Since then, the governor has continued in the direction of allowing more economic activity to continue, through executive orders issued on May 18 and May 26. Here are some business highlights from these Executive Orders, which apply to most Texas counties (including Harris County):

Open

Reopened on May 5

  • Movie theaters
    • May reopen at 25% capacity
    • Video arcades, child play areas, and interactive games must remain closed
    • Full list of regulations here
  • Restaurants (less than 51% of gross receipts from sale of alcoholic beverages)
    • Dine-in may now operate at 50% capacity (beginning May 22)
    • May provide to-go or delivery
    • Interactive functions and exhibits (like child play areas, interactive games, and video arcades) must remain closed
    • Full list of regulations here
  • Non-essential retail
    • Services can be provided through pick-up, delivery by mail, or delivery to customer’s doorstep
    • In-person stores may operate at 25% capacity
    • Full list of regulations here
  • Wedding receptions and venues
    • Indoor receptions may reopen at 25% capacity, outdoor receptions have no capacity limit and are encouraged
    • Outdoor venues are encouraged, and venues in facilities other than churches cannot exceed 25% capacity
    • Full list of regulations for receptions here and for venues here

Reopened on May 8

  • Barber shops
    • Working stations must be at least six feet apart
    • Full list of regulations here
  • Cosmetology/hair salons
    • Working stations must be at least six feet apart
    • Full list of regulations here
  • Nail salons
    • Working stations must be at least six feet apart
    • Full list of regulations here
  • Tanning salons
    • Working stations must be at least six feet apart
    • Full list of regulations here

Reopened on May 18

  • Child care centers
    • Full list of regulations here
  • Gyms/exercise facilities
    • May reopen at 25% capacity
    • Locker rooms and showers must remain closed, while restrooms can be available
    • Full list of regulations here
  • Manufacturers
    • May reopen at 25% capacity
    • Full list of regulations here
  • Massage and personal care, beauty services
    • Working stations must be at least six feet apart
    • Full list of regulations here
  • Office-based employers
    • Workers may return up to the greater of:
      • 10 individuals, or
      • 25% of office capacity
    • Full list of regulations here
  • Drive-in concerts
  • Golf courses

Reopened on May 22

  • Bars
    • May reopen at 25% capacity indoors, at capacity outdoors
    • Interactive functions or exhibits (such as child play areas, interactive games, and video arcades) must remain closed
    • Full list of regulations here
  • Bowling alleys, bingo halls, simulcasting, skating rinks
    • May operate up to 25% capacity
    • Operating bowling lanes, customers playing bingo and simulcasting patrons must be six feet apart
    • Components with interactive functions and exhibits must remain closed
    • Full list of regulations here
  • Outdoor motorsports
    • May operate up to 25% capacity and facilitate appropriate social distancing between customers
    • Full list of regulations here
  • Rodeo/equestrian events
    • Indoor and outdoor venues may not exceed 25% capacity
    • Six feet of separation between patrons not in the same household should be maintained to the extent feasible, including at the entrances and exits
    • Larger gatherings that include a rodeo or equestrian event, like a county fair, are not alloewd
    • Full list of regulations here
  • Zoos, aquariums, natural caverns
    • May operate at 25% capacity pending permission from local government
    • Interactive functions and exhibits must remain closed
    • Indoor areas in zoos must remain closed
    • Full list of regulations here

Reopened on May 26

  • Driving schools
    • May operate at 25% capacity for classroom instruction
    • Must ensure six feet social distancing except when receiving in-person car instructions or participating in a DPS road test
    • Full list of regulations here

Reopened on May 29

  • Waterparks
    • May operate at 25% capacity
    • Components with interactive functions or exhibits must remain closed
    • Full list of regulations here

Will Reopen on May 31

  • Youth sports
    • May begin practice without spectators other than one parent/guardian per child
      • Spectators must be separated by at least six feet from individuals not in the spectator’s group
    • May begin games on June 15
    • Full list of regulations here
  • Adult recreational sports
    • May begin practice without spectators
    • May begin games on June 15 with spectators separated from individuals not in their household by at least six feet
    • Full list of regulations here
  • Day and overnight youth camps
    • Full list of regulations here

This list applies to businesses that are not considered essential. Essential businesses may continue operating as usual for the most part, but are recommended to follow similar safety protocols to slow the spread of COVID-19. To determine whether a business can be deemed essential, refer to guidelines set by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency here.

Of course, businesses reopening comes with the caveat that they still follow Texas laws and regulations concerning their practices, for example applicable licensing and safety laws.

Staying safe in the office

As more and more companies begin resuming activity, employers and employees alike may be wondering how to keep their workplaces safe. According to guidelines set by the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas,

  • Office-based employers should:
    • Train employees on appropriate cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette
    • Screen for and send home employees and contractors showing symptoms of COVID-19, including:
      • Cough
      • Shortness of breath
      • Chills
      • Repeated shaking with chills
      • Difficulty breathing
      • Loss of sense of smell or taste
      • Headache
      • Muscle pain
      • Sore throat
      • Diarrhea
      • Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than 100.0 F
      • Known contact with someone who is lab confirmed to have COVID-19
    • Not allow individuals testing positive for COVID-19 and individuals showing undiagnosed symptoms to return until 3 days after symptoms pass and 10 days after symptoms first appear
      • Individuals who show symptoms of COVID-19 may return to work if they obtain a medical professional’s note clearing them of COVID-19
    • Not allow individuals who have contacted someone who is lab confirmed to have COVID-19 to work until after 14 days of self-quarantine
    • Have employees wash or sanitize hands upon entering office
    • Ensure that employees take necessary precautions when possible, including:
      • Avoiding gatherings of more than ten people
      • Minimize in-person contact by six feet social distancing, wearing masks, washing or sanitizing hands frequently, and avoid sharing utensils or common objects
    • Consider implementing a staggered workforce (such as where groups of employees come in on alternate days), remote work, and having workers wear face coverings
    • If employer provides food for employees, the employer is recommended to individually package meals
    • Regularly clean and disinfect regularly touched surfaces
    • Limit use of standard-size elevators to four at a time, spread out in each corner and wearing masks. Individuals subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act may ride the elevator alone or with their caretaker
    • Disinfect items that come in contact with customers
    • Make disinfectants such as hand sanitizer, wipes, and soap and water available
    • Place readily-visible signage at office to remind everyone of best hygiene practices
    • For offices with 10 or more employees or contractors at one time, consider having an individual wholly or partially dedicated to ensuring health protocols are successfully implemented and followed
  • Office-based employees should:
    • Take necessary precautions when possible, including:
      • Avoiding gatherings of more than ten people
      • Minimize in-person contact by six feet social distancing, wearing masks, washing or sanitizing hands frequently, and avoid sharing utensils or common objects
    • Do not return to office if showing symptoms of COVID-19 (listed above)
    • Wash or disinfect hands upon entering office and after interactions with other people and items
    • Carry hand sanitizer and use it regularly
    • Wear face masks in common areas and when within six feet of another person who is not a member of the individual’s household
    • Limit use of standard-size elevators to four at a time, spread out in each corner and wearing masks. Individuals subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act may ride the elevator alone or with their caretaker

The Family First Coronavirus Response Act’s (FFCRA) leave provisions are still in place through December 31, 2020. Additional guidance and other minimum recommended health protocols are accessible here. Minces Rankin PLLC is here to help your business safely reopen. Please contact us by submitting a contact form.

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