On April 27, 2020, Governor Abbott issued Executive Order GA-18, implementing Phase I to reopen Texas, beginning May 1, 2020. In addition to confirming that “essential services” shall continue to operate as they have, GA-18 provides guidance on services that may reopen as of 12:01 a.m. on Friday.

“Reopened services” include:

  • Retail services that may be provided through pickup, delivery by mail, or delivery to the customer’s doorstep;
  • In-store retail services up to 25 percent occupancy rate;
  • Dine-in restaurant services up to 25 percent occupancy rate, except restaurants that derive 51% or more of their receipts from alcohol;
  • Movie theaters up to 25 percent occupancy rate;
  • Shopping malls up to 25 percent of mall’s occupancy rate but not food-court, play areas, or interactive displays;
  • Museums and libraries up to 25 percent occupancy rate but not interactive functions or Exhibits;
  • Services provided by an individual working alone in an office; and
  • Golf course operations; and
  • Local government operations.

Governor Abbott states that people and business providing or obtaining services authorized under GA-18 “should follow minimum standard health protocols recommended by DSHS,” found here, and confirms that residents may still engage in essential daily activities such as going to grocery the store or gas station, providing or obtaining other essential or reopened services, visiting parks, hunting or fishing, or engaging in physical activity like jogging, bicycling, or other outdoor sports. Notably, GA-18 encourages individuals to wear face coverings but “no jurisdiction can impose a civil or criminal penalty for failure to wear a face covering, superseding any mandates passed down from Texas cities, counties, and townships.

What business are not included as a “reopened service”:

  • Bars,
  • Gyms,
  • Public swimming pools,
  • Interactive amusement venues such as bowling alleys and video arcades,
  • Massage establishments,
  • Tattoo studios,
  • Piercing studios, and
  • Cosmetology salons

These businesses are not included in the reopened services and shall remain closed for the present time. Likewise, “…people shall not visit nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, or long-term care facilities.”

GA-18 marks a limited step toward reopening businesses in Texas but still limits certain business segments and the volume of clientele that can be serviced, and violations are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to 180 days in jail. GA-18 does supersede local orders but only to the extent they “restrict 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.” Accordingly, you should consult with your attorney if you have questions about how this order applies to your business or works in connection with any existing local orders.