On July 1, 2020, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg issued a Fifth Addendum to the Eighth Declaration of Public Health Emergency Regarding COVID-19 for the City of San Antonio, and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff issued Executive Order NW-12. The addendum and executive order identify and require additional measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Restrictions Imposed by the Fifth Addendum and NW-12
The orders include additional requirements to the Health and Safety Policies that must be developed and implemented by all commercial entities in the City of San Antonio and Bexar County providing goods or services directly to the public. In addition to the face covering requirement that was previously imposed by Bexar County Executive Order NW-11, the new orders mandate that commercial entities prominently display a list of COVID-19 symptoms at or near the public and employee entrances of the premises. The City of San Antonio has provided model notices that comply with this requirement. 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 by noon on July 3, 2020. Failure to develop and implement the Health and Safety Policy as required by the Addendum may result in a fine not to exceed $1,000 for each violation. Under the new orders, temperature screening is highly encouraged, but not required, for employees, customers and visitors to retail stores with volume and capacity levels that allow for practical implementation.
In addition to the supplemental Health and Safety Policy measures, the orders prohibit all large gatherings or events estimated to be in excess of 100 people, whether indoor or outdoor, with the following exceptions: (1) 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; (2) religious services; (3) local government operations; (4) child-care services; (5) youth camps; (6) recreational sports program for youths and adults; (7) professional, collegiate, or similar sporting events; (8) swimming pools; (9) water parks; (10) museums and libraries; (11) zoos, aquariums, natural caverns and similar facilities; (12) rodeos and equestrian events; and (13) amusement parks and carnivals. Large gatherings under exceptions (6) through (13) require a Health and Safety Policy as described by the orders to be implemented by July 3, 2020, at 12 p.m.
The orders prohibit social gatherings, including family gatherings, larger than 10 persons. The orders also limit restaurant capacity to 50% of the total listed occupancy of the restaurant and require closure of bars or similar establishments provided, however, that drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options for food and drinks is allowed to the extent authorized by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. The orders prohibit commercial rafting or tubing services, including rental of rafts or tubes and transportation of people for the purpose of rafting or tubing.
Executive Order NW-12 limits 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.
Finally, in light of Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-27, the addendum requires most elective surgeries and procedures in the City of San Antonio to be postponed until further notice.
Requirements in this area are evolving rapidly. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and Mayor Ron Nirenberg sent a joint letter to Governor Greg Abbott on June 30, 2020 asking for more local authority to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including possible additional restrictions. For up-to-date information on legal issues implicated by the current public health emergency in Texas, visit Jackson Walker’s Coronavirus microsite.
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.