Firm News

Reopening the Economy: Part 6

By Preston W. Rose
Attorney at McGuire, Craddock & Strother, P.C.
September 18, 2020

After months with little to no new guidance regarding business closures, on September 17, 2020, Texas Governor Greg Abbott released Executive Order No. GA-30, which updates the COVID-19 guidance for Texas businesses.[1]  This new guidance is based on a new region-specific scheme that is dependent upon the level of COVID-19 hospitalizations in each region.  For a summary of Governor Abbott’s previous guidance, please see my earlier articles: Reopening the Economy: Part 1, Reopening the Economy: Part 2, Reopening the Economy: Part 3, Reopening the Economy: Part 4, and Reopening the Economy: Part 5 Please also 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:

Updates and Changes:

    • The new guidance is broken down by various hospital regions in Texas known as “Trauma Service Areas.” Trauma Service Areas where COVID-19 patients exceed 15% of all hospitalized patients for more than 7 seven consecutive days are considered “areas with high hospitalizations.”  The new more relaxed rules do not apply to areas with high hospitalizations.  Currently, the Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, and Victoria qualify as areas with high hospitalizations.
    • Starting Monday, September 21, 2020, the following businesses may operate at up to 75% of the total listed occupancy, except for those establishments in areas with high hospitalizations:

Retail;

Restaurants – provided that patrons are only served while seated and the establishment has less than 51% of gross receipts from alcohol;

Office buildings;

Manufacturers;

Museums and libraries; and

Gyms and exercise facilities and classes.

  • Except for some specific exceptions (such as religious services, youth camps, and recreational sports programs), all outdoor gatherings with more than 10 people are banned throughout the state, unless the mayor of the city or the county judge of the unincorporated area approves the gathering.
  • Notably, bars remain closed under the latest guidance.
  • Starting Thursday, September 24, 2020, designated family members may visit nursing homes, assisted living, and long-term care facilities.
  • Executive Order No. 31, which focuses on hospitals, (1) bars elective surgeries in areas with high hospitalizations, and (2) requires hospitals to reserve 10% of capacity for COVID-19 patients.[1]

Conclusion

            As COVID-19 numbers return to lower levels, some businesses in Texas may now operate at higher occupancy levels.  But even with a relative relaxation of the guidance, state and local guidelines are always subject to change, so businesses must regularly 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].

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.

[1] Executive Order No. GA-31 may be found at:
https://lrl.texas.gov/scanned/govdocs/Greg%20Abbott/2020/GA-31.pdf.

[1] Executive Order No. GA-30 may be found at:
https://lrl.texas.gov/scanned/govdocs/Greg%20Abbott/2020/GA-30.pdf.