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Executive Order No. GA-21 relating to the expanded reopening of services as part of the safe, strategic plan to Open Texas in response to the COVID-19 disaster.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the State of Texas, do hereby order the following on a statewide basis effective immediately, and continuing through May 19, 2020, subject to extension based on the status of COVID-19 in Texas and the recommendations of the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas, the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and the CDC:
In accordance with guidance from DSHS Commissioner Dr. Hellerstedt, and to achieve the goals established by the President to reduce the spread of COVID-19, every person in Texas shall, except where necessary to provide or obtain essential services or reopened services, minimize social gatherings and minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household. People over the age of 65, however, 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.
“Essential services” shall consist of everything listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 3.0 or any subsequent version, plus religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship. Other essential services may be added to this list with the approval of the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM). TDEM shall maintain an online list of essential services, as specified in this executive order and any approved additions. Requests for additions should be directed to TDEM at EssentialServices@tdem.texas.gov or by visiting the TDEM website at www.tdem.texas.gov/essentialservices.
“Reopened services” shall consist of the following to the extent they are not already “essential services:”
The conditions and limitations set forth above for reopened services shall not apply to essential services. The total listed occupancy limits described above refer to the maximum occupant load set by local or state law, but for purposes of this executive order, staff members are not included in determining operating levels except for non-essential manufacturing service providers and services provided by office workers. Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, the governor may by proclamation identify any county or counties in which reopened services are thereafter prohibited, in the governor’s sole discretion, based on the governor’s determination in consultation with medical professionals that only essential services should be permitted in the county, including based on factors such as an increase in the transmission of COVID-19 or in the amount of COVID-19-related hospitalizations or fatalities.
In providing or obtaining essential services or reopened services, all persons (including individuals, businesses and other organizations, and any other legal entity) should use good-faith efforts and available resources to follow the minimum standard health protocols recommended by DSHS, found at www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus. All persons should also follow, to the extent not inconsistent with the DSHS minimum standards, the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, as well as other CDC recommendations. 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. Nothing in this executive order or the DSHS minimum standards precludes requiring a customer wishing to obtain services to follow additional hygiene measures.
Religious services should be conducted in accordance with the joint guidance issued and updated by the attorney general and governor.
People shall avoid visiting bars, massage establishments, tattoo studios, piercing studios, sexually oriented businesses, or interactive amusement venues such as bowling alleys, video arcades, amusement parks, water parks, or splash pads, unless these enumerated establishments or venues are specifically added as a reopened service by proclamation or future executive order of the governor. Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, the governor may by proclamation add to this list of establishments or venues that people shall avoid visiting. To the extent any of the establishments or venues that people shall avoid visiting also offer reopened services permitted above, such as restaurant services, these establishments or venues can offer only the reopened services and may not offer any other services. The use of drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options for food and drinks remains allowed and highly encouraged throughout the limited duration of this executive order.
This executive order does not prohibit people from accessing essential or reopened services or engaging in essential daily activities, such as going to the grocery store or gas station; providing or obtaining other essential or reopened services; visiting swimming pools, parks, beaches, rivers, or lakes; hunting or fishing; or engaging in physical activity like jogging, bicycling, or other outdoor sports, so long as the necessary precautions are maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and to minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household.
In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, people shall not visit nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance as determined through guidance from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). Nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, and long-term care facilities should follow infection control policies and practices set forth by the HHSC, including minimizing the movement of staff between facilities whenever possible.
In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, schools shall remain temporarily closed to in-person classroom attendance by students and shall not recommence before the end of the 2019-2020 school year, except that a student (accompanied by an adult if needed) may, as allowed by the school consistent with the minimum standard health protocols found in guidance issued by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), visit his or her school campus (a) for limited non-instructional administrative tasks such as cleaning out lockers, collecting personal belongings, and returning school items like band instruments and books; or (b) for graduating seniors, to complete post-secondary requirements that cannot be accomplished absent access to the school facility and its resources, excluding any activity or assessment which can be done virtually. Public education teachers and staff are encouraged to continue to work remotely from home if possible, but may return to schools to conduct remote video instruction, as well as perform administrative duties, under the minimum standard health protocols found in guidance issued by the TEA. Private schools and institutions of higher education should establish similar standards to allow teachers and staff to return to schools to conduct remote video instruction and perform administrative duties when it is not possible to do so remotely from home. Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, schools may conduct graduation ceremonies consistent with the minimum standard health protocols found in guidance issued by the TEA. Nothing in this executive order, the DSHS minimum standards, or the joint guidance issued and updated by the attorney general and governor precludes churches, congregations, and houses of worship from using school campuses for their religious services or other allowed services.
This executive order shall supersede any conflicting order issued by local officials in response to the COVID-19 disaster, but only to the extent that such a local order restricts essential services or reopened services allowed by this executive order, allows gatherings prohibited by this executive order, or expands the list of essential services or the list or scope of reopened services as set forth in this executive order. I hereby suspend Sections 418.1015(b) and 418.108 of the Texas Government Code, Chapter 81, Subchapter E of the Texas Health and Safety Code, and any other relevant statutes, to the extent necessary to ensure that local officials do not impose restrictions in response to the COVID-19 disaster that are inconsistent with this executive order, provided that local officials may enforce this executive order as well as local restrictions that are consistent with this executive order.
This executive order supersedes Executive Order GA-18, but does not supersede Executive Orders GA-10, GA-13, GA-17, GA-19, or GA-20. This executive order shall remain in effect and in full force until 11:59 p.m. on May 19, 2020, unless it is modified, amended, rescinded, or superseded by the governor.