Today, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order implementing statewide restrictions on activities, as a result of the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Governor Abbott’s Order cites “Guidelines from the President and the CDC” and implements statewide restrictions intended to bring consistency to the patchwork of regulations imposed by local officials in several Texas counties. Effective from 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 20 through at least April 3, 2020, the Executive Order:
- Instructs every person in Texas to avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people. (The Order does not prohibit people from visiting a variety of places, including grocery stores, gas stations, parks, and banks so long as “necessary precautions” are maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID-19).
- Orders people to avoid dining and drinking within bars and restaurants, while “allow[ing] and highly encourag[ing] drive-thru, pickup, and delivery options….”
- Directs Texans to avoid visiting gyms and massage parlors.
- Bans visits to “nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities except to provide critical assistance.” While today’s Executive Order does not specifically address whether such “critical assistance” includes end-of-life visits, recent media reports suggest the Governor intended as recently as March 13 to allow these visits provided visitors “go through proper screening.”
- Closes all Texas schools.
The Executive Order emphasizes that it is not a shelter-in-place order, as have been implemented in some other jurisdictions. And while the Order does not specifically impose restrictions on non-social workplace gatherings, as some local public health measures have, it encourages “offices and workplaces that remain open” to ensure that employees “practice good hygiene and, where feasible, work from home in order to achieve optimum isolation from COVID-19.”
For up-to-date information on legal issues implicated by the current public health emergency in Texas, visit Jackson Walker’s Coronavirus microsite.
- JW Coronavirus Insights & Resources webpage »
- COVID-19 & Your Business: Frequent Questions »
- Webinar: “COVID-19 & Your Business: Families First Coronavirus Response Act” »
- e-Alert: Dallas County Issues “Shelter in Place” Order to Mitigate Spread of COVID-19 »
Brad Nitschke is a partner in Jackson Walker’s Trial and Investigations & White Collar Defense practices. In addition to representing business and healthcare clients in litigation from demand through trial, Brad has particular experience in investigations and crisis response involving allegations of sexual misconduct, financial impropriety, and health care fraud and abuse.
Denise Rose has been working in and around the Texas Capitol for over a decade. She is extremely well-versed in the legislative and appropriations processes, and has cultivated relationships throughout the Texas Capitol and in state agencies. Denise provides effective strategic counsel to clients on a wide variety of issues, including but not limited to Medicaid and hospital finance, special utility districts, occupational licensing, health care quality, and agency rulemaking processes and requests for proposals.
Amanda N. Crouch is a commercial litigator who regularly practices in state and federal court. Amanda has represented clients in a wide range of litigation matters, including oil and gas disputes, creditor representation, financial institution disputes, life insurance disputes, and defending personal injury claims.
Kate Goodrich is a governmental affairs consultant in the Austin office. She started her career as a federally registered lobbyist in Washington, D.C., and grew to become a senior advisor to legislators at the Texas Capitol. Kate’s background in state and federal government gives her an in-depth and practical knowledge of the legislative and appropriations processes. She is a respected member of the governmental affairs community and has forged deep relationships at the Capitol and beyond.
Please note: This article and any resources presented on the Jackson Walker Coronavirus microsite do not constitute legal or medical advice.