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":
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:
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.