On December 8, 2020, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff issued Executive Order NW-18 regarding efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. NW-18 rescinds all previous Bexar County Executive Orders and any Supplemental Executive Orders and will be in force until fourteen (14) days following the termination of the statewide public health emergency declared by Texas Governor Greg Abbott on March 13, 2020, unless extended, modified, or terminated early by Judge Wolff.
Executive Order NW-18 continues many of the restrictions previously imposed in prior orders as further described in this article. The most notable new requirement is the closure of all bars that hold a permit from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and are not restaurants as defined in Paragraph 6 of Governor Abbott’s GA-32. If a bar met those requirements, it was closed as of 11 p.m. on December 10, 2020, until further notice.
In addition, NW-18 continues the Health and Safety Policy requirement for all commercial entities in Bexar County providing goods or services directly to the public. The face covering requirement that was previously imposed by Governor Greg Abbott’s GA-29 remains in place. Commercial entities must also prominently display a list of COVID-19 symptoms at or near the public and employee entrances of the premises. The required Health and Safety Policy, including the displayed list of COVID-19 symptoms, must be posted in a conspicuous location on the business premise. Failure to develop and implement the Health and Safety Policy as required may result in a fine not to exceed $1,000 for each violation. Temperature screening remains highly encouraged, but not required, for employees, customers and visitors to retail stores with volume and capacity levels that allow for practical implementation.
NW-18 also continues to prohibit all large outdoor gatherings or events estimated to be in excess of 10 people with the following exceptions:
- any services listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce;
- religious services;
- local government operations;
- child-care services;
- youth camps;
- recreational sports program for youths and adults;
- any public or private schools, and any public or private institutions of higher education, not already covered above;
- drive-in concerts, movies, or similar events, under guidelines that facilitate appropriate social distancing that generally require spectators to remain in their vehicles, and that minimize in-person contact between people who are not in the same household or vehicle;
- professional, collegiate, or similar sporting events;
- swimming pools;
- water parks;
- museums and libraries;
- zoos, aquariums, natural caverns, and similar facilities;
- rodeos and equestrian events; and
- amusement parks and carnivals.
Large gatherings under exceptions (6) and (9) through (15) require a Health and Safety Policy as described by the order.
Social gatherings, including family gatherings, larger than 10 persons are prohibited. The orders limits restaurant capacity to 75% of the total listed occupancy of the restaurant. Additionally, commercial rafting or tubing services are prohibited, including rental of rafts or tubes and transportation of people for the purpose of rafting or tubing.
Finally, NW-18 continues to limit the points of access for the Bexar County Justice Center and requires all citizens and employees to be asked certain risk-related screening questions and have their temperature taken. Any individual who fails the screening process or with a temperature exceeding 100°F will not be allowed to enter the building. Bexar County residents are encouraged to conduct county business online or via regular mail to avoid visiting county facilities unless absolutely necessary. If residents need to visit a county facility, they are encouraged to call the county department or office they are attempting to visit prior to visiting.
Requirements in this area are evolving rapidly. For up-to-date information on legal issues implicated by the current public health emergency in Texas, visit JW.com/Coronavirus.
Jackson Walker’s COVID-19 Task Force stands ready to assist any commercial entity with development of the Health and Safety Policy required by the recent county and city orders. If you are in need of assistance, please contact Julia Mann, Rick Garza, Amanda Crouch, or any member of Jackson Walker’s Labor & Employment group.
Please note: This article and any resources presented on the JW Coronavirus Insights & Resources site are for informational purposes only, do not constitute legal or medical advice, and are not a substitute for legal advice from qualified counsel. The laws of other states and nations may be entirely different from what is described. Your use of these materials does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Jackson Walker. The facts and results of each case will vary, and no particular result can be guaranteed.