Firm News

Reopening the Economy: Part 4

By Preston W. Rose
Attorney at McGuire, Craddock & Strother, P.C.
June 8, 2020

On June 3, 2020, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Phase 3 of his plan to reopen Texas.[1]  For a summary of Governor Abbott’s previous guidance, please see my earlier articles: Reopening the Economy: Part 1, Reopening the Economy: Part 2, and Reopening the Economy: Part 3.  As part of Phase 3, Governor Abbott mandated that all businesses in Texas could operate at up to 50% occupancy, unless specified otherwise.  Please visit the official website for individualized “checklists” from the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas that provide additional guidance on reopening.  A summary of the changes and updates is provided below:

50 Percent Occupancy Limit

  • Except for specific exceptions provided by the guidance, all Texas business may operate at up to 50% of the total listed occupancy for the establishment.
  • While most outdoor events and establishments are not limited, the following events and establishments are still limited to 50% occupancy:

    • Professional, collegiate, or other similar sporting events;

    • Swimming pools and water parks;

    • Museums and libraries;

    • Zoos, aquariums, natural caverns, and other similar establishments; and

    • Rodeos and equestrian events.

  • Amusement parks and carnivals shall operate at no more than 50% of the normal operating limits as determined by the owner. But in counties with more than 1,000 cumulative COVID cases, amusement parks cannot reopen until June 19, 2020.
  • Restaurants that have less than 51% of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages may operate at 50% occupancy and can increase to 75% occupancy on June 12, 2020.
  • Indoor bars and similar indoor establishments (other than restaurants as set forth in the previous bullet) may now increase occupancy to 50% as long as only seated customers are served.

No Occupancy Limit

  • There is no occupancy limit for the following:

    • Any service or business deemed essential by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA);

    • Religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship;

    • Local government operations;

    • Child care services;

    • Youth camps (including summer camps, day camps, and other overnight camps); and

    • Recreational sports programs.

  • The following establishments do not have an occupancy limit, if they operate with at least 6 feet of distance between workstations:

    • Cosmetology salons, hair salons, barbershops, nail salons/shops, and other establishments where licensed cosmetologists or barbers work;

    • Massage establishments and other facilities where licensed massage therapist work; and

    • Other personal-care and beauty services (tanning salons, tattoo/piercing studios, hair removal services, and hair loss treatment and growth services).

  • Most outdoor events, venues, and establishments unless otherwise specified.

Other Guidance

  • Businesses in rural counties operating at 50% occupancy or 50% of normal operating limits may immediately move to 75% occupancy on June 12, 2020.
  • Staff are not considered for occupancy requirements, except for manufacturing and office establishments.
  • Except for a few limited exceptions, local officials have the ability to impose additional restrictions on gatherings of more than 500 people.
  • Facilities with retractable roofs are still considered to be “indoor” facilities for purposes of occupancy rules.

Conclusion

As with the previous updates on this topic, businesses should continue to review and abide by the latest local and state guidelines.

For more information or for advice on when, whether and how a specific business may reopen, please contact Preston W. Rose at [email protected].

[1] Executive Order No. GA-26 may be found at:
https://lrl.texas.gov/scanned/govdocs/Greg%20Abbott/2020/GA-26.pdf.

This correspondence should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances.  The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult a lawyer concerning your own situation and legal questions.