By Julia Mann, Rick Garza, Amanda Crouch, Gary Fowler, Lionel Schooler, & Brooke Leondar
On June 17, 2020, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff issued Executive Order NW-10 to extend the local disaster declaration and public health emergency for Bexar County. The order went into effect at noon on June 17, 2020, and continues through June 30, 2020, at 11:59 p.m.
Under the order, all commercial entities in Bexar County that provide goods or services directly to the public must develop and implement a Health and Safety Policy. The policy requires, at a minimum, all employees or visitors to the commercial entity’s business premises or other facilities to wear face coverings when in an area or performing an activity that will involve close contact or proximity to coworkers or the public where six feet of separation is not feasible.
The policy may include other mitigating measures designed to control and reduce the transmission of COVID-19, such as temperature checks or health screenings.
Commercial entities must post a copy of their Health and Safety Policy in a conspicuous location sufficient to provide notice to employees and visitors by June 22, 2020. Failure to develop and implement the policy may result in a fine of up to $1,000 for each violation.
Additionally, effective at noon on June 17, 2020, all people 10 years or older must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when in a public place where it is difficult to keep six feet away from other people. Exceptions to the face mask requirement include when an individual is consuming food or drink, while pumping gas or operating outdoor equipment, while in a building or activity that requires security surveillance or screening (such as a bank), while engaging in physical activity outside, while driving alone or with members of the same household or when doing so poses a greater mental or physical health, safety or security risk. Consistent with Executive Order GA-26 issued by Governor Greg Abbott, no civil or criminal penalty may be imposed on individuals for failure to wear a face covering.
Finally, the order encourages Bexar County residents to continue to maintain social distancing of at least six feet while outside their home and engage in other mitigation efforts, such as handwashing and avoiding touching their nose and face.
Later on June 17, 2020, the City of San Antonio issued an Addendum to its 8th Declaration of Public Health Emergency Regarding COVID-19, in which it adopted Executive Order NW-10, continued to urge all San Antonio businesses to adopt and implement the health and safety protocols recommended by the Economic Transition Team, and strongly encouraged San Antonio businesses to take the Greater Safer, Together pledge.
Jackson Walker’s COVID-19 Task Force stands ready to assist any commercial entity with development of the Health and Safety Policy required by Bexar County’s order. If you are in need of assistance, please contact Julia Mann, Rick Garza, Amanda Crouch, Gary Fowler, Lonnie Schooler, Brooke Leondar, or any member of Jackson Walker’s Labor & Employment group.
Requirements in this area are evolving rapidly. The mayors of the cities of Arlington, Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, Houston, Plano, and San Antonio joined in a letter dated June 16, 2020 urging Governor Abbott to allow local officials to decide whether to require the use of face coverings and may develop their own orders. For up-to-date information on legal issues implicated by the current public health emergency in Texas, visit Jackson Walker’s Coronavirus microsite.
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.