COVID-19 > Local Mandates and Stay at Home Orders
- What does Governor Abbott declaring a statewide public health disaster mean to all of us in Texas?
Governor Greg Abbott has announced a statewide public health disaster for the first time in more than 100 years due to coronavirus. This is the first time a public health disaster has been issued in Texas since 1901.
The disaster declaration gives the state and local officials the tools and resources they need to combat coronavirus.
Abbott also issued an executive order that requires all Texas schools, bars, gyms and restaurant dining rooms to temporarily close. This order is not a shelter in place, Abbott said. "We as a country must swiftly elevate our response to COVID-19," the governor said. "It is essential that all Americans comply with the CDC standards."
Here's what falls under Abbott's executive order:
- Every person in Texas must avoid social gatherings that have more than 10 people.
- People should avoid eating and drinking at bars, restaurants and food courts or visiting gyms. There will be no dining at bars or restaurant dining rooms since they will be closed. Restaurants can still offer take-out options.
- People shall not visit nursing homes, retiring centers or long-term care facilities unless they're providing critical care assistance.
- All Texas schools must close temporarily. This does not mean that education stops. Superintendents will continue to work with the Texas Education Agency to continue online or additional educational options.
- What does the City of San Antonio’s Stay Home, Work Safe Order include?
Effective on March 24 at 11:59 PM is the Stay Home, Work Safe Order in both San Antonio and Bexar County.
Mayor Nirenberg and Judge Wolff ordered all businesses to close and stop operations other than allowing employees to work from home, maintaining security and maintenance of the business’ property and facilitating information technology services that allow employees to work from home.This excludes businesses that are considered essential.A complete list of exemptions is available in the order: https://www.sanantonio.gov/Portals/0/Files/health/COVID19/Website%20Docs/Emergency%20Declaration%20No.%205.pdf?ver=2020-03-23-175107-393
- Does the WARN Act apply to businesses closed by the San Antonio Emergency Declaration?
Under the WARN Act, employers with 100 or more employees are required to provide 60 days’ advance notice of a temporary shutdown if the shutdown will either affect 50 or more employees at a single site of employment and result in a layoff of the affected employees of at least 6 months or at least a 50 percent reduction in hours of work of the affected individual employees during each month of any 6-month period of the shutdown.
This notice is not required if the closure/shutdown is a result of a “natural disaster” or “unforeseeable business circumstances.” WARN does not address whether a pandemic fits within these definitions, although an “unanticipated and dramatic economic downturn” might be considered “not reasonably foreseeable.”
However, assuming that the COVID-19 situation qualifies above, it is still recommended that employers provide as much advance notice as possible. Following the mandated closure, if the business does not resume full operations due to loss of business revenue, WARN notification would be required for those who meet the criteria above.
- I believe my business is considered “essential”: do I need to document that somehow?
We recommend that you provide your employees who will be working from your office with a letter explaining the category that your business falls in to be considered essential (as identified in the mandate), the duties performed by the overall company to deem it essential, and the skills, training, duties that employees perform in order to be determined as vital to the organization in carrying out the company’s obligations deemed essential by the ordinance. This letter should be customized for each employee and provide the employee’s name and address if the employee does not have a work-issued ID badge.
- Explain Governor Abbott’s orders for re-opening Texas.
On May 1, retail stores, restaurants, and movie theaters were able to reopen with certain restrictions. Governor Abbott has since clarified that the restaurant seating capacity limitation of 25% applies only to indoor seating and does not apply to outdoor seating, but the same distancing standards apply to both.
On May 8, barber shops and salons were able to reopen with certain restrictions.
On May 18,
- Gyms will be able to reopen with certain conditions, including that they will only be able to operate at 25% capacity.
- Nonessential manufacturers and offices may reopen at reduced capacity (25%) if they follow minimum health standards, such as observing social distancing guidelines.