• By: Graham Sutliff
  • Published: May 2020
TEXAS EXECUTIVE ORDER – MAY 18, 2020

On May 18, 2020, Gov. Greg Abbott issued Executive Order No. GA-23 relating to the expanded opening of Texas in response to the COVID-19 disaster. This Order represents the second phase of Gov. Abbott’s reopening plan. This Order follows Order Nos. GA-18 and GA-21 that were issued on April 27 and May 5, 2020, respectively.

Under the Orders, no business is required to open, but instead, is now given permission to open.

Beginning May 18, 2020, the following services and activities may open under Phase II:

  • Child Care Centers for all children
  • Massage and Personal-Care Centers with at least six feet of social distancing between operating work stations
  • Youth Clubs

Beginning May 22, the following services and activities may open under Phase II:

  • Rodeos and Equestrian Events – limited to 25% occupancy – larger gatherings such as county fairs are still prohibited
  • Bowling Alleys, Bingo Halls, Simulcast Racing, and Skating Rinks – limited to 25% occupancy, bowling alleys must ensure at least six feet of social distancing, and video arcades must remain closed
  • Bars (including wine tasting rooms, craft breweries and similar businesses) – limited to 25% occupancy and interactive functions or exhibits must remain closed
  • Aquariums and Natural Caverns as allowed by local authorities – limited to 25% occupancy and interactive functions or exhibits must remain closed
  • Drive-in concerts, under guidelines that facilitate social distancing
  • Amateur sporting events where the general public is not allowed and all participants have tested negative for COVID-19 prior to the event, are quarantined for the duration of the event, are temperature-checked and monitored for symptoms daily, and are tested again at the end of the event

Beginning May 29, outdoor areas of Zoos may open under Phase II but are limited to 25% occupancy and interactive functions or exhibits must remain closed. Zoos may only operate if permitted by local authorities.

Beginning May 31, the following services and activities may open under Phase II:

  • Day Youth Camps
  • Overnight Youth Camps
  • Youth Sports
  • Professional sports (basketball, baseball, softball, golf, tennis, football, and car racing events) without in-person spectators and as approved on a league-by-league basis by the Department of State Health Services (DSHS)

With regard to sporting and camp activities, special safety standards and minimum standard health protocols have been established. Schools may also provide in-person summer school classes as soon as June 1st as long as the social distancing practices and health protocols outlined by DSHS are followed.

Additionally, restaurants may now increase their dining room areas to an occupancy of 50%, whereas it was previously 25% for most parts of Texas.

For all other businesses located in office buildings, they may now open but are limited to an occupancy that is greater of 10 employees or 25% of their workforce.

Certain counties experiencing surges will delay the beginning date of Phase II until May 29. The affected counties surround the cities of El Paso and Amarillo: El Paso, Randall, Potter, Moore, and Deaf Smith.

Texas Executive Order GA-18

In Gov. Abbott’s Order No. GA-18, dated April 27, 2020, the following non-essential businesses were allowed to open beginning on May 1 and these regulations remain in effect:

  • In-store retail services – limited to 25% occupancy (up to 50% for certain counties)
  • Movie theaters – limited to 25% occupancy (up to 50% for certain counties)
  • Shopping malls – limited to 25% occupancy (up to 50% for certain counties) – food courts, dining areas, play areas, and interactive displays and settings must remain closed
  • Museums and libraries as allowed by local authorities – limited to 25% occupancy (50% for certain counties) – interactive functions or exhibits must remain closed
  • Golf courses

Texas Executive Order GA-21

In Gov. Abbott’s Order No. GA-21, dated May 5, 2020, the following non-essential businesses were additionally allowed to open and these regulations remain in effect:

  • Wedding venues and services required to conduct weddings – limited to 25% occupancy for indoors unless at a church, congregation or house of worship (50% for certain counties)
  • Wedding reception services – limited to 25% occupancy unless outdoors (50% for certain counties)

The following non-essential business were allowed to open beginning on May 8 and these regulations remain in effect:

  • Cosmetology salons, hair salons, barber shops, nail salons/shops, etc. with at least six feet of social distancing between operating work stations
  • Tanning salons with at least six feet of social distancing between operating work stations
  • Swimming pools – limited to 25% occupancy (50% for certain counties)

The following non-essential businesses were allowed to open beginning on May 18 and these regulations remain in effect:

  • Manufacturing services – limited to 25% occupancy (50% for certain counties)
  • Gyms and exercise facilities – limited to 25% occupancy (50% for certain counties) – locker rooms and shower facilities must remain closed, but restrooms may open

About the Author

Graham Sutliff is a founding partner at Sutliff & Stout, Injury & Accident Law Firm. Among other awards and certifications, he is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law and has been recognized by Thomson Reuters as a Super Lawyer for the past decade. In 2019 alone, Graham recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for his clients who were injured by others. To learn more about Graham, click here.

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