Houston and Dallas Extend “Stay Home, Work Safe” Orders
UPDATE — April 6, 2020 April 30 or May 20? Like many of the recent regulations related to COVID-19, orders coming out of Dallas County on Friday, April 3 created some confusion among residents and business owners. We now have some clarification: the Safer at Home Order for Dallas County was extended to April 30. That Order requires Dallas County residents to shelter in place except for “essential businesses” as defined in the Order. A copy of the Order as amended can be found here. Originally, it was reported that this Order had been extended to May 20, but it has since been clarified that May date applies to the disaster declaration for the area.
Houston — April 3, 2020 This week, two of the largest metropolitan areas in Texas have extended their respective “stay home” orders:
Harris County and City of Houston: Harris County Judge Lina Hildago announced earlier this week that Harris County was extending its Stay Home – Work Safe Order until April 30.
Dallas County and the City of Dallas: Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins announced today that the Dallas County Commissioners voted to extend Dallas’ Stay Home Stay Safe Order to May 20.
What this means for you – the Stay Home Orders that were previously put in place and were set to expire today in both Dallas and Harris County have been extended in their entirety. As of publication, there were no substantive changes to the previous orders in Harris County. Dallas County also issued additional, amended orders on April 2, in summary which:
- Adds safety rules for manufacturers and distributors
- Caps late fees for rent at $15/month
- Requires employees of essential businesses to telecommute when possible
- Prohibits employers from requiring negative COVID test of physician note before recovered employee can go back to work
- Clarifies that limits on purchases of toilet paper and other essential items do not apply to Essential Businesses and Government Offices
The amended order is intended to provide guidance for businesses that meet the standards of Critical Manufacturers and Distributors under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure. A summary of the amended order can be found here: Dallas County Safer at Home Order.
It is anticipated that the City of Austin and Travis County also extend its orders, and we will provide an update if and when they do.
Notably, Harris and Dallas County have started strictly enforcing the Stay Home Orders. The enforcement includes ordering businesses to close that are not considered “essential services” under the respective Orders, issuing cease and desist notices to businesses, and individual fines and arrests. If you have questions regarding whether your business is operating within the rules of the local, state, or federal orders, contact an attorney to provide you guidance.
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