On April 27, 2020, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-18, which touches on the “expanded reopening of services” as part of a larger plan to open the State of Texas in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The order will remain in place until May 15, 2020.
What Does the Order Say?
The biggest news from Governor Abbott’s order is the reopening of certain non-essential businesses provided that they stay below 25% of their listed occupancy. This includes:
- Retail establishments;
- Dine-in restaurants;
- Movie theaters;
- Shopping malls;
- Museums and libraries.
The order also re-opens golf courses, county and municipal operations, and services provided by people working alone in an office.
The governor’s order doesn’t expand to venues and business that aren’t listed. People are still forbidden from going to gyms, bars, salons, public pools, tattoo parlors, and “interactive amusement venues.” Schools are still closed and nursing homes and similar facilities remain off-limits for most.
Do We Still Need to Practice Social Distancing?
Yes. The Governor’s order still encourages people to abide by minimum standard health protocols established by the Texas Department of State Health Services, which are available online.
What About Local Orders to Stay Home?
Governor Abbott’s order will supersede any local orders that come in conflict with his order. This means that businesses allowed to reopen can do so even if a local order forbids it. Depending on how the local order is drafted, this doesn’t mean that standing local orders are completely invalidated if they conflict with the governor’s order. It usually means that parts or the orders are now invalid but the rest should still be followed.
Can I Be Arrested or Fined for Violating the Governor’s Order?
Yes. Failure to comply with an executive order can carry a punishment of up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Local orders, such as the ones for the City of Austin and Travis County, also carry their own punishment and fines for non-compliance.
If you or your loved one has been arrested for allegedly defying a coronavirus order, reach out to the team at Stephen T. Bowling & Associates today for a free consultation.