Texas Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order regarding COVID-19
Houston — March 19, 2020 In response to the growing concern over the novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”), Greg Abbott, Governor of the State of Texas, issued an executive order (“Executive Order”) prohibiting certain activities across the State effective 11:59 on March 20, 2020.
In summary, the Governor issued the following “orders”:
- Every person in Texas shall avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people;
- People shall avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts, visiting gyms or massage parlors;
- People are prohibited from visiting nursing homes, retirement, or long term care facilities, unless providing critical assistance, which is not defined; and
- Schools shall temporarily close.
Although Governor Abbott requests that employees should work from home where feasible to reduce public contact, the order expressly states it is not a directive to “shelter in place”. In fact, the order specifically sets out that visiting “a variety of places” such as grocery stores, gas stations, parks, and banks is permitted as long as the necessary precautions are maintained to reduce the spread of COVID-19 (See CDC Guidelines). There is a silver lining for those so inclined; to ease the strain of social distancing and encourage Texans to stay home while still supporting our hospitality industry – the Governor has temporarily waived the prohibition against restaurants delivering alcoholic drinks. As long as the order is accompanied by a food order, restaurants with licenses are free to deliver drinks to customers at home. (See Delivery Rules Waived Temporarily).
It is important to note that all critical infrastructure is to remain operational and government entities and businesses will continue to provide essential services – although the term “essential services” is undefined.
For businesses trying to navigate this dynamic situation, the breadth of these orders means that many may still be wondering what to do in light of the CDC Guidelines and the need to continue operations where possible. The analysis may be a case- by-case (or jobsite-by-jobsite) analysis.
This Executive Order from Governor Abbott comes on the heels of similar orders earlier this week from Dallas County and the City of Dallas (Dallas County Order), the City of Houston (Houston Guidelines), and the City of Austin (City of Austin). Those operating businesses in Texas should note that local counties and municipalities are still able to implement more restrictive regulations as they deem necessary.
As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the globe, and in particular in Texas, look for these regulations to potentially change in the days and weeks to come. Currently this Executive Order from Governor Abbott expires on April 3, 2020, subject to extensions and modifications.
You can find the order in its entirety here.
Andrews Myers is monitoring developments to this dynamic situation and will continue to provide updates. For more information, please contact William Davidson at 713.850.4236 or via email, or Sara McEown at 713.351.0372 or via email.
Celebrating 30 Years in 2020
Founded in 1990, with offices in Houston and Austin, Andrews Myers, Attorneys at Law, is a corporate law firm and recognized market leader in Texas construction law. The firm focuses on the concentrated disciplines of commercial litigation, construction, commercial real estate, corporate and business transactions, with additional emphasis on related issues including bankruptcy and insolvency, energy, employment and capital formation. A seasoned team of attorneys provides timely and cost-effective solutions to the most complex problems facing entrepreneurs and middle-market industry leaders throughout the state and the nation. For more information please visit www.andrewsmyers.com.