UPDATE: Texas Allows Additional Businesses to Reopen

May 7, 2020Alerts

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott expanded the list of businesses permitted to reopen under the state's multi-phase Open Texas plan in a new order issued May 5.

Gov. Abbott announced the plan to reopen businesses on April 27, with Phase One permitting certain businesses to reopen effective May 1, subject to certain conditions. We wrote about it here. Here’s what you need to know about the May 5 expansion:

Businesses That May Reopen

Gov. Abbott’s prior executive orders permitted businesses providing “essential services” to operate, as well as retail services to the extent provided through pickup, mail or delivery. Here is the list of businesses, services and activities permitted to open under the governor's latest order, and previous orders, subject to the listed conditions:

Open Effective Immediately

  • In-store retail services, but only at up to 25% of the total listed occupancy of the establishment.
  • Dine-in restaurants with less than 51% of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages, but only at up to 25% of the total listed occupancy of the restaurant (the occupancy limit does not apply to customers seated in outdoor areas). Valet services must remain closed (except for vehicles with placards or plates for disabled parking).
  • Movie theaters, but only at up to 25% of the total listed occupancy of any individual theater.
  • Shopping malls, but only at up to 25% of the total listed occupancy of the shopping mall. Food court dining areas, play areas and interactive displays and settings must remain closed.
  • Museums and libraries, but only at up to 25% of the total listed occupancy. Interactive functions or exhibits, including child play areas, must be closed (local public museums and libraries may also open subject to the same conditions if permitted by the local government).
  • Services provided by an individual working alone in an office
  • Golf course operations
  • Local government operations, including county and municipal operations relating to permitting, recordation and document-filing services, as determined by the local government,
  • Wedding venues and the services required to conduct weddings, but for weddings held indoors ― other than at a church, congregation, or house of worship ― only at up to 25% of the total listed occupancy of the facility (the occupancy limit does not apply to the outdoor areas of a wedding reception or to outdoor wedding receptions).

Open Effective May 8

  • Establishments where licensed cosmetologists or barbers practice their trade (e.g., cosmetology salons, hair salons, barber shops, nail salons/shops) and tanning salons, but only if they ensure at least six feet of social distancing between work stations.

Open Effective May 18

  • Services provided by office workers in offices that operate with up to five individuals, or 25% of the total office workforce, whichever is greater, but only if the individuals maintain appropriate social distancing;
  • Manufacturing services, but only for facilities that operate at up to 25% of the total listed occupancy of the facility; and
  • Gyms and exercise facilities and classes, but only if they operate at up to 25% of the total listed occupancy of the gym or exercise facility. Locker rooms and shower facilities must remain closed (restrooms may be open).

For counties that have attested to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) that they have five or fewer confirmed cases of COVID-19, the occupancy limits above increase from 25 to 50%. Further, the executive order clarifies that the conditions for reopened services do not apply to “essential services,” which may continue operating as permitted by Gov. Abbott’s prior executive order.

Additionally, there is no statewide mask or face covering requirement. Instead, the latest executive order encourages individuals to wear appropriate face coverings, but precludes local governments from imposing civil or criminal penalties for failure to do so. Businesses should be aware, however, that certain Texas counties may require employees and customers of essential and reopened businesses to wear face coverings. Local face covering mandates do not appear to conflict with the statewide order, which provides that the statewide order supersedes conflicting local orders “only to the extent that such a local order restricts essential services or reopened services allowed by this executive order ...”

Next steps

Assuming positive health trends continue, Gov. Abbott is expected in the coming days and weeks to expand the types of businesses that may reopen and increase the occupancy limits on reopened services.

Fox Rothschild is monitoring the latest COVID-19 developments in Texas. Please contact Lee Szor if you have questions.

Additional Information