Today’s Executive Order from Governor Abbott, GA-14, says non-essential businesses can operate via teleconference. Abbott emphasized Texans need to continue social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The protocols direct all Texans to minimize non-essential gatherings and in-person contact with people who are not in the same household.
“Social distancing is our best tool in the fight against COVID-19, and the actions we have taken thus far have proven to be effective in limiting the spread of this virus,” said Governor Abbott. “Now it is time to redouble our efforts to reduce further exposure as much as possible and flatten the curve. As with all the actions the state is taking, the Essential Services and Activities Protocols is informed by the expertise and guidance of the CDC as well as state and local health officials. I urge my fellow Texans to heed these heightened social distancing directives to protect their health and the health of those around them. By following these guidelines, we will limit the spread of COVID-19 and overcome this challenge together.”
As of noon Tuesday, Abbott said that there have been at least 3,266 confirmed cases across 122 counties, 41 COVID-19 related deaths and 42,922 Texans that have been tested. Abbott said of the hospital beds available in Texas for COVID-19 patients, only 2.4% are currently occupied.
The Executive Order renews and expands the Governor’s previous directive to minimize social gatherings and minimize contact with people who are not in the same household. It also renews the Governor’s directive to avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts, and visiting gyms or massage establishments, and it expands the order to include tattoo studios, piercing studios, and cosmetology salons.
In accordance with federal guidelines, people are still prohibited from visiting nursing home, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.
Governor Abbott was asked if his new executive order with increased restrictions would be classified as a “shelter in place” order for Texas or a stay at home order?
Abbott rejected both labels for the restrictions that have been implemented so far. He replied that shelter-in-place means “you need to take shelter immediately right there,” whether someone is in their home or on the roadside, in the event of a disaster like a tornado.
Since Texans may still leave home to access essential services, Abbott said describing the measure as a stay-at-home order is also not accurate.
“A stay-at-home strategy would mean that you have to stay at home, you cannot leave home under any circumstances. That obviously is not what we’ve articulated here,” Abbott said.
For the purposes of Texas Executive Order GA-14 the following are considered “Essential Services”:
ADVISORY MEMORANDUM ON IDENTIFICATION OF ESSENTIAL CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE WORKERS DURING COVID-19 RESPONSE
CISA Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Sectors:
HEALTHCARE / PUBLIC HEALTH
LAW ENFORCEMENT, PUBLIC SAFETY, AND OTHER FIRST RESPONDERS
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE
WATER AND WASTEWATER
TRANSPORTATION AND LOGISTICS
PUBLIC WORKS AND INFRASTRUCTURE SUPPORT SERVICES
COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
OTHER COMMUNITY- OR GOVERNMENT-BASED OPERATIONS AND ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS
DEFENSE INDUSTRIAL BASE
RESIDENTIAL/SHELTER FACILITIES AND SERVICES
HYGIENE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
Religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship.
Other services as approved by the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
TDEM will maintain an online list of essential services specified in the Governor’s Executive Order at www.tdem.texas.gov/essentialservices/. Other essential services may be added to this list with the approval of TDEM.
View Executive Order GA-14. EO-GA-14_Statewide_Essential_Service_and_Activity_COVID-19_IMAGE_03-31-2020
“In short, what this provides is that Texans are expected to limit personal interactions that could lead to the spread of COVID-19, while also still having the freedom to conduct daily activities such as going to the grocery store, so long as you are following the presidential standard of good distance practices,” Abbott said.
According to the executive order, businesses people should avoid visiting in-person include gyms, massage parlors, tattoo and piercing studios, cosmetology salons, and dining-in at restaurants and bars. Drive-through or take-out orders are still allowed and encouraged, Abbott said.
“In particular, all services should be provided through remote telework from home unless they are essential services that cannot be provided through remote telework,” according to the order.
The order will go into effect statewide at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, April 2 and lasts through April 30, in alignment with President Donald Trump’s extension of social distancing guidelines through that date.
Abbott’s Executive Order GA-14 will remain in effect until April 30 unless it is extended. Schools in TX will remain closed until, at least, May 4.