Texas Governor Greg Abbott
Issued April 27, 2020
Governor Greg Abbott announced the first phase of the State of Texas' ongoing plan to safely and strategically open Texas while minimizing the spread of COVID-19. 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. The Governor also outlined special guidance for Texans over 65 and detailed a comprehensive mitigation plan for nursing homes in Texas. The Governor also announced a statewide testing and tracing program developed by DSHS that will help public health officials quickly identify and test Texans who contract COVID-19 and mitigate further spread of the virus.
Minimum standard health protocol checklists and guidelines for entities affected by Executive Order GA-18 are provided towards the end of this posting.
“Reopened services” shall consist of the following to the extent they are not already “essential services":
- Retail services that may be provided through pickup, delivery by mail, or delivery to the customer’s doorstep.
- Starting at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 1, 2020:
- In-store retail services, for retail establishments that operate at up to 25 percent of the total listed occupancy of the retail establishment.
- Dine-in restaurant services, for restaurants that operate at up to 25 percent of the total listed occupancy of the restaurant; provided, however, that (a) this applies only to restaurants that have less than 51 percent of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages and are therefore not required to post the 51 percent sign required by Texas law as determined by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and (b) valet services are prohibited except for vehicles with placards or plates for disabled parking.
- Movie theaters that operate at up to 25 percent of the total listed occupancy of any individual theater for any screening.
- Shopping malls that operate at up to 25 percent of the total listed occupancy of the shopping mall; provided, however, that within shopping malls, the food-court dining areas, play areas, and interactive displays and settings must remain closed.
- Museums and libraries that operate at up to 25 percent of the total listed occupancy; provided, however, that (a) local public museums and local public libraries may so operate only if permitted by the local government, and (b) any components of museums or libraries that have interactive functions or exhibits, including child play areas, must remain closed. Regarding the Haltom City Public Library, it has not been determined when they will open to the public.
- For Texas counties that have filed with DSHS, and are in compliance with, the requisite attestation form promulgated by DSHS regarding five or fewer cases of COVID-19, those in-store retail services, dine-in restaurant services, movie theaters, shopping malls, and museums and libraries, as otherwise defined and limited above, may operate at up to 50 percent (as opposed to 25 percent) of the total listed occupancy.
- Services provided by an individual working alone in an office.
- Golf course operations.
- Local government operations, including county and municipal governmental operations relating to permitting, recordation, and document-filing services, as determined by the local government.
- Such additional services as may be enumerated by future executive orders or proclamations by the governor.
The conditions and limitations set forth above for reopened services shall not apply to essential services. Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, the governor may by proclamation identify any county or counties in which reopened services are thereafter prohibited, in the governor’s sole discretion, based on the governor’s determination in consultation with medical professionals that only essential services should be permitted in the county, including based on factors such as an increase in the transmission of COVID-19 or in the amount of COVID-19-related hospitalizations or fatalities.
In providing or obtaining essential services or reopened services, people and businesses should follow the minimum standard health protocols recommended by DSHS, found at www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus, and should implement social distancing, work from home if possible, and practice good hygiene, environmental cleanliness, and sanitation. This includes also following, to the extent not inconsistent with the DSHS minimum standards, the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, as well as other CDC recommendations. Individuals are encouraged to wear appropriate face coverings, but no jurisdiction can impose a civil or criminal penalty for failure to wear a face covering.
Religious services should be conducted in accordance with the joint guidance issued and updated by the attorney general and governor.
Churches/places of worship have no attendance limitations, so as long as specific social distancing and sanitation guidelines are followed. Specific guidelines include:
- Strongly encourage the at-risk population to watch or participate in the service remotely. (At-risk population are those who are 65 or older, especially those with chronic lung disease; moderate to severe asthma; chronic heart disease; severe obesity; diabetes; chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis; liver disease; or weakened immune system.)
- Designate an area inside the facility reserved for the at-risk population, or offer a service for at-risk population attendees only.
- Alternate rows between attendees (every other row left empty).
- Ensure proper spacing between attendees:
- Keep at least two empty seats (or six feet separation) between parties in any row, except as follows:
- Two or more members of the same household can sit adjacent to one another, with two seats (or six feet separation) empty on either side.
- Two individuals who are not members of the same household but who are attending together can sit adjacent to one another, with two seats (or six feet separation) empty on either side.Individuals can participate in outdoor sports, provided that the sports do not include contact with other participants and no more than four participants play the sport at any time.
People shall avoid visiting bars, gyms, public swimming pools, interactive amusement venues such as bowling alleys and video arcades, massage establishments, tattoo studios, piercing studios, or cosmetology salons. The use of drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options for food and drinks remains allowed and highly encouraged throughout the limited duration of this executive order.
Below are various minimum standard health protocol checklists and guidelines that pertain to businesses, employees and customers affected by Executive Order GA-18, sourced from the Texans Helping Texans: The Governor's Report to Open Texas, the entirety off which is embedded below:
The virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to others by infected persons who appear to have few or no symptoms. Even if an infected person is only mildly ill, the people they spread it to may become seriously ill or even die, especially if that person is 65 or older with pre-existing health conditions that place them at higher risk. Because of the hidden nature of this threat, everyone should rigorously follow the practices specified in these protocols on the following pages, all of which will support a safe and measured reopening of Texas. The virus that causes COVID-19 is still circulating in our communities.
The DSHS minimum recommended health protocols are subject to change based on new and evolving information.
We should continue to observe practices that protect everyone, including those who are most vulnerable. Individuals, employers, employees, and customers are encouraged to review, print out, and follow the MINIMUM health protocols recommended by DSHS in the checklists located in the Governor's Report linked below, in addition to federal and state employment laws and workplace safety standards.
The PDF version of the Texans Helping Texans: The Governor's Report to Open Texas is embedded below.