Over the past year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has announced a series of ongoing Executive Orders in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the state. The latest updates take effect Wednesday, March 10, 2021.
On March 2, 2021, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued GA-34, which establishes that statewide executive orders pertaining to COVID-19 would end, effective Wednesday, March 10, 2021. Specifically:
- The statewide mask-mandate, and COVID-related closures and capacity limits will end. Any entity can be open at 100% occupancy. Businesses may still require masks and/or limit capacity at their own discretion.
- Exception as follows: If a Trauma Service Area (TSA) exceeds 15% COVID-hospitalizations for 7 straight days, a county judge may use COVID-mitigation strategies in their county; but the judge cannot limit capacity more than 50% and no penalties or jail time can be given for violations.
More information is available on the Governor's website.
On Feb. 16, 2021, Denton County Judge Andy Eads received notification from Texas Health and Human Services that Trauma Service Area E has had seven consecutive days where total hospital capacity is 15 percent or less COVID-patients. TSA E includes Denton County, which now allows all of the county's restaurants to increase capacity to 75 percent and allows bars to reopen at 50 percent capacity. In addition, all licensed hospitals may resume elective surgeries as outlined in GA-32, which was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott on Oct. 7, 2020. Previous restrictions below, dated Dec. 3, 2020, no longer apply. Click here to view a copy of Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission order Judge Eads signed on Feb. 16.
On Dec. 3, 2020, from Denton County: According to the Texas Department of State Health Services website, the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of total hospital capacity in the Trauma Service Area E (which includes Denton County) has exceeded 15 percent for seven consecutive days. Denton County has not yet received official notification from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
As a result, according to Governor Abbott’s Executive Orders GA-31 and GA-32, the following are now in effect:
- Any business establishment that currently has a 75 percent occupancy or operating limit may operate at up to only 50 percent. However, this does not affect entities listed under Paragraph 1 of GA-32 such as churches, local government operations, childcare services or public or private schools.
- Per GA-32, people shall not visit bars or similar establishments. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) will determine the extent of operation.
- The visiting of nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, or long-term care facilities is determined through guidance from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC).
- Elective surgeries and procedures are addressed in GA-31, which states every hospital that is licensed under Chapter 241 of Texas Health and Safety Code shall postpone if located in an area with high hospitalizations.
The orders remain in place until such a time as Trauma Service Area E has seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of total hospital capacity is 15 percent or less.
Additional information can be found at the Texas Department of State Health Services website and on Gov. Abbott's GA-32 webpage.
On Oct. 7, 2020, Gov. Abbott announced the opening of bars and similar establishments to 50% capacity in regions with low COVID19 hospitalizations, effective Oct. 14. On that day, County Judges can opt their county into these openings provided they assist in enforcing health protocols.
Additionally, businesses like amusement parks, movie theaters, zoos, aquariums, and bowling alleys can expand to 75% capacity in counties with low COVID19 hospitalizations, also beginning Oct. 14. Gov. Abbott recorded a video message to announce the new openings.
On Sept. 17, 2020, in response to new cases and hospitalizations being cut 2/3 from a peak in late July, Gov. Abbott issued a proclamation announcing Executive Order GA-30, which amends previous executive orders to increase the maximum capacity for the following business categories to 75%, effective Monday, Sept. 21:
- Retail establishments;
- Dine-in restaurants, as defined in the proclamation;
- Office buildings;
- Museums and libraries; and,
- Gyms, exercise facilities and classes.
Per GA-31, hospitals may resume elective procedures as normal, effective immediately.
Bars, however, remain closed until further notice. Starting Thursday, Sept. 24, people may visit nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, or long-term care facilities as determined through guidance from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). Read the release on the Governor’s website.
On July 2, 2020, Gov. Abbott issued GA-29, effective at 12:01 p.m. July 3, 2020, which requires "all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions. The Governor also issued a proclamation giving mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on some outdoor gatherings of over 10 people, and making it mandatory that, with certain exceptions, people cannot be in groups larger than ten and must maintain six feet of social distancing from others."
The full news release is available on the Governor’s website.
Due to the state’s growing positivity rate, Gov. Abbott issued GA-28 on June 26, 2020, which included the following:
- All bars and similar establishments that receive more than 51-percent of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages are required to close at noon June 26, 2020. These businesses may remain open for delivery and take-out, including for alcoholic beverages, as authorized by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
- Restaurants may remain open for dine-in service, but at a capacity not to exceed 50-percent of total listed indoor occupancy, beginning Monday, June 29, 2020.
- Rafting and tubing businesses must close.
- Outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people must be approved by local governments, with certain exceptions.
On June 25, Gov. Abbott announced a temporary pause of additional reopening phases. Also on June 25, Gov. Abbott issued GA-27, which includes new restrictions on elective medical procedures in select counties.
Previously, GA-26, issued June 3, included the following:
- Residents should not be in groups larger than 10 and should maintain 6-feet of social distancing from those not in their group.
- People over the age of 65 are strongly encouraged to stay at home as much as possible; to maintain appropriate distance from any member of the household who has been out of the residence in the previous 14 days; and, if leaving the home, to implement social distancing and to practice good hygiene, environmental cleanliness, and sanitation.
- In providing or obtaining services, every person (including individuals, businesses, and other legal entities) should use good-faith efforts and available resources to follow the minimum standard health protocols recommended by DSHS. Nothing in this executive order or the DSHS minimum standards precludes requiring a customer to follow additional hygiene measures when obtaining services. 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.
- People shall not visit nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, or long-term care facilities unless as determined through guidance from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC).
For more details and specific information for your business, visit the Governor’s Strike Force to Reopen Texas website.