June 25, 2020 -  Tarrant County Executive Orders

Judge B. Glen Whitley issued a new executive order today regarding the requirement for face masks or face coverings for business employees and customers due to the imminent threat of widespread illness from COVID-19.

The transmission of COVID-19 remains a significant threat to the health and safety of Tarrant County communities and the rate of infection are increasing at an exponential rate, county officials said. The number of people admitted to hospitals or placed on ventilators is also rising despite efforts by local authorities to control the spread of the virus.

Because of the public health emergency, the Tarrant County executive order requires all employees and visitors to Tarrant County businesses to wear face coverings when in an area or performing an activity which will necessarily involve close contact or proximity to co-workers or the public. Other than exceptions outlined by the state, the county order also requires that individuals wear masks if they are in areas that are open to the public where social distancing is not feasible and where it is estimated that 100 or more people are more are present.

Tarrant County’s order follows Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision that local governments can require stores and businesses to require masks in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The county order, which goes into effect at 6 p.m. Friday, June 26, 2020 and continues through 6 a.m. Aug. 3, 2020, applies to all entities in Tarrant County that provide goods or services directly to the public.

Click here to read the Tarrant County executive order.

The requirement of a face covering in Tarrant County does not apply if covering the nose and mouth poses a significant mental or physical health risk to the individual. The requirement of a face covering also does not apply when an individual is consuming a food or beverage or receiving a service where the wearing of a face covering would impair the performance of the service.

All people 10 years or older are strongly urged to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when in an area open to the public where it is difficult to keep six feet away from other people or working in areas that involve proximity with coworkers. The CDC advises face coverings for people ages 2 years or older. Face coverings may include homemade masks, scarfs, bandanas, or a handkerchief. Tarrant County residents should continue to maintain social distancing of at least six feet while outside their home.

June 3, 2020 Executive Orders 

Governor Greg Abbott announced the third phase of the State of Texas’ plan to safely open the economy while containing the spread of COVID-19. Under Phase III, effective immediately, all businesses in Texas will be able to operate at up to 50% capacity, with very limited exceptions. Business that previously have been able to operate at 100% capacity may continue to do so, and most outdoor areas are not subject to capacity limits. All businesses and customers should continue to follow minimum standard health protocols laid out by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

As with previous phases, the Phase III plan is based on the advice and support of the four doctors on the Strike Force to Open Texas medical team. Via Executive Order, Phase III begins immediately. A breakdown of Phase III can be found below. 

"The people of Texas continue to prove that we can safely and responsibly open our state for business while containing COVID-19 and keeping our state safe,” said Governor Abbott. "As anticipated, the new positive cases that we are seeing are largely the result of isolated hot spots in nursing homes, jails, and meat packing plants. Thanks to the effectiveness of our Surge Response Teams, we have the ability to contain those hot spots while opening up Texas for business. As we begin Phase III, I ask all Texans and Texas businesses to continue following the standard health protocols and to heed the guidance of our state and federal officials who continue to closely monitor COVID-19. If we remain vigilant, we will continue to mitigate the spread of this virus, protect public health, and get more Texans back to work and their daily activities."

Between May 26th and June 2nd, over 45% of new cases came from jails or prisons, meat packing plants and nursing homes. There are currently 1,487 Texans hospitalized due to COVID-19. There are 20,679 active cases in the state and 45,858 Texans are estimated to have recovered.

Effective June 3:

  • All businesses currently operating at 25% capacity can expand their occupancy to 50% with certain exceptions. 
  • Bars and similar establishments may increase their capacity to 50% as long as patrons are seated.
  • Amusement parks and carnivals in counties with less than 1,000 confirmed positive cases may open at 50% capacity. 
  • Restaurants may expand their maximum table size from 6 to 10 persons.  

Effective June 12:

  • Restaurants may expand their occupancy levels to 75%. 

Effective June 19:

  • Amusement parks and carnivals in counties with more than 1,000 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 may open at 50% capacity.

Additional Openings:

  • Special provisions have been made for outdoor gatherings, such as Fourth of July celebrations, but it is imperative that local officials and public health officials collaborate on safe standards. These provisions are included in the Governor's Executive Order and are also available on the Open Texas webpage. 

Further Protocols:
All businesses should continue to follow the minimum standard health protocols from DSHS. For details and a full list of guidelines, openings, and relevant dates, visit http://open.texas.gov.

Reminders for those going out:

  • Individuals are encouraged to wear appropriate face coverings.
  • People should not be in groups greater than ten when possible.
  • People over the age of 65 are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible.
  • People are still asked to avoid nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, or long-term care facilities.

May 18, 2020 Executive Orders:

Governor Greg Abbott announced the second phase of the State of Texas' ongoing plan to safely and strategically open Texas while minimizing the spread of COVID-19. Under Phase II, restaurants may increase their occupancy to 50% and additional services and activities that remained closed under Phase I may open with restricted occupancy levels and minimum standard health protocols laid out by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

Additionally, the Governor announced that public schools in Texas have the option to provide in-person summer school so long as they follow social distancing practices and health protocols laid out by DSHS. These classes may begin as soon as June 1st.

"Today, tomorrow, and every day going forward is one step closer to medical discoveries that can treat and protect people from COVID-19—but until that day comes, our focus is keeping Texans safe while restoring their ability to get back to work, open their businesses, pay their bills, and put food on their tables," said Governor Abbott. "By continuing to use safe practices, we are slowing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting our most vulnerable. Now more than ever, we need to work together as one Texas. I ask all Texans to continue heeding the guidance of our state and federal medical experts and do their part to protect public health. If we all unite in our resolve, we will overcome this challenge."

Via Executive Order, the following services and activities may open under Phase II.

Child Care Centers (May 18)
Massage and Personal-Care Centers (May 18)
Youth Clubs (May 18)
Rodeo and Equestrian Events (May 22)
Bowling Alleys, Bingo Halls, Simulcast Racing, and Skating Rinks (May 22)
Bars (May 22)
Aquariums and Natural Caverns (May 22)
Zoos (May 29)
Day Youth Camps (May 31)
Overnight Youth Camps (May 31)
Youth Sports Practices (May 31) 
Youth Sports Games (June 15)
Certain professional sports without in-person spectators (May 31)

All sporting and camp activities are required to adhere by special safety standards, and minimum standard health protocols have been established for all newly-announced opened services and activities. Businesses located in office buildings may also open but must limit their occupancy to the greater of 10 employees or 25% of their workforce.

Additionally, restaurants may expand their occupancy to 50% beginning May 22. Bars—including wine tasting rooms, craft breweries, and similar businesses—may open at 25% occupancy but like restaurants, these occupancy limits do not apply to outdoor areas that maintain safe distancing among parties.

Opened services and activities under Phase II are subject to certain occupancy limits and health and safety protocols. For details and a full list of guidelines, openings, and relevant dates, visit www.gov.texas.gov/opentexas.

Certain counties experiencing surges in COVID-19 cases will have their beginning date of Phase II delayed until May 29. These counties include El Paso, Randall, Potter, Moore, and Deaf Smith. Surge Response Teams are actively working in these areas to increase testing, maintain hospital capacity, and ensure that COVID-19 is contained and mitigated.

May 6th Executive Orders by Governor Abbott

Starting at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 8, 2020:

  • Cosmetology salons, hair salons, barber shops, nail salons/shops, and other establishments where licensed cosmetologists or barbers practice their trade; provided, however, that all such salons, shops, and establishments must ensure at least six feet of social distancing between operating work stations. Tanning salons; provided, however, that all such salons must ensure at least six feet of social distancing between operating work stations.

Starting at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, May 18, 2020:

  • Services provided by office workers in offices that operate at up to the greater of (i) five individuals, or (ii) 25 percent of the total office workforce; provided, however, that the individuals maintain appropriate social distancing.
  • Manufacturing services, for facilities that operate at up to 25 percent of the total listed occupancy of the facility.
  • Gyms and exercise facilities and classes that operate at up to 25 percent of the total listed occupancy of the gym or exercise facility; provided, however, that locker rooms and shower facilities must remain closed, but restrooms may open.

In providing or obtaining essential services or reopened services, all persons (including individuals, businesses and other organizations, and any other legal entity) should use good-faith efforts and available resources to follow the minimum standard health protocols recommended by DSHS, found at www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus.  All persons should also follow, to the extent not inconsistent with the DSHS minimum standards, the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, as well as other CDC recommendations.  Individuals are encouraged to wear appropriate face coverings, but no jurisdiction can impose a civil or criminal penalty for failure to wear a face covering.  Nothing in this executive order or the DSHS minimum standards precludes requiring a customer wishing to obtain services to follow additional hygiene measures. 

April 27, 2020 Executive Orders

Governor Greg Abbott announced the first phase of the State of Texas' ongoing plan to safely and strategically open Texas while minimizing the spread of COVID-19.

Under Phase I, certain services and activities are allowed to open with limited occupancy, and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is issuing minimum standard health protocols for all businesses and individuals to follow.

The Governor's announcement is accompanied by Texans Helping Texans: The Governor's Report to Open Texas. This detailed report, available on the strike force website, helps Texans understand phase one by outlining the new protocols, guidance, and recommendations.

  • By way of Executive Order (GA-18), all retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls are permitted to reopen on Friday, May 1. These services must limit their capacity to 25% of their listed occupancy. Within shopping malls, the food-court dining areas, play areas, and interactive displays and settings must remain closed.
  • All museums and libraries may open under the same 25% occupancy limitation, but interactive areas of museums must remain closed. State libraries and museums will open by May 1, and local public museums and libraries may reopen only if permitted by the local government. Single-person offices may reopen as well.
  • Churches and places of worship remain open. Outdoor sports are allowed to resume so long as no more than four participants are playing together at one time. Certain social distancing practices must also be followed.

DSHS has recommended minimum standard health protocols for all individuals, all employers and employees, as well as industry-specific protocols for retailers, retail customers, restaurants, restaurant patrons, movie theaters, movie theater customers, museums and libraries, museum and library visitors, outdoor sports participants, single-person offices, and low COVID-19 counties. These protocols are outlined in the Open Texas Checklists within the Governor's report beginning on page 20.

Essential services such as farmers and ranchers, grocery and drug stores, banks, and gas stations will continue to operate.

Phase II

Public swimming pools, bars, gyms, cosmetology salons, massage establishments, interactive amusement venues, such as bowling alleys and video arcades, and tattoo and piercing studios will remain closed through Phase I. Nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, and long-term care facilities must remain closed to visitors unless to provide critical assistance.

Phase I will begin Friday May 1 and continue until at least May 18.

The Governor's Report to Open Texas also outlines a long-term comprehensive mitigation plan for nursing homes in Texas. Eight recommendations have been developed by HHSC to help mitigate the further spread of COVID-19 and decrease the risk of infection in these facilities. A summary of the recommendations is below, and full recommendations are in the Governor's report beginning on page 9:

  1. Quantify the extent of infection immediately
  2. Establish a comprehensive mitigation plan
  3. Re-evaluate current COVID-19 positive facilities
  4. Appropriate isolation and placement of COVID-19 patients
  5. Implement enhanced access controls
  6. Enhance control of staff access
  7. Effective notifications
  8. Continue containment efforts

Statewide Testing and Contact Tracing Program

During the press conference, the Governor also announced a new statewide testing and contact tracing program. Developed and implemented by DSHS, this program will help identify individuals who have contracted COVID-19 and those who may need to quarantine or be tested due to potential exposure. This phased implementation will allow Texans to box in the virus and slow, or even stop, further spread. Phase I of the tracing program has been completed, and Phase II begins today. Phase III begins May 11. More details about the contact tracing program are available in the Governor's Report to Open Texas beginning on page 16.

Healthcare Professionals

Governor Abbott today also relaxed certain restrictions related to health care professionals and issued amended requirements related to hospital capacity. Under an Executive Order (GA-19) issued today:

  • All licensed health care professionals shall be limited in their practice by, and must comply with, any emergency rules promulgated by their respective licensing agencies dictating minimum standards for safe practice during the COVID-19 disaster.
  • Every hospital licensed under Chapter 241 of the Texas Health & Safety Code shall reserve at least 15% of its hospital capacity for treatment of COVID-19 patients, accounting for the range of clinical severity of COVID-19 patients, as determined by HHSC.

View Texans Helping Texans: The Governor's Report to Open Texas. 

 View the Governor's Executive Orders issued today:

  •  GA-18: Relating to the expanded reopening of services as part of the safe, strategic plan to Open Texas in response to the COVID-19 disaster.
  •  GA-19: Relating to hospital capacity during the COVID-19 disaster.
  •  GA-20: Relating to expanding travel without restrictions as part of the safe, strategic plan to Open Texas in response to the COVID-19 disaster.

"Retail-To-Go" Operations

On April 17, 2020, the Governor Greg Abbott announced that select activities and services that pose minimal to no threat of spreading COVID-19 are allowed to reopen, including a "Retail-To-Go" model for Texas businesses. The "Retail-To-Go" model will allow retail outlets in Texas to reopen beginning Friday, April 24.

Under this model, reopened establishments are required to deliver items to customer's cars, homes or other locations to minimize contact. Any retailers considering utilizing this model should review the following guidance located on the Texas Department of State Health Services' website.

  • “Reopened services” shall consist of:
    Starting at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, April 24, 2020, retail services that are not “essential services,” but that may be provided through pickup, delivery by mail, or delivery to the customer’s doorstep in strict compliance with the terms required by DSHS. The DSHS requirements may be found at www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus.

In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, people shall avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts, or visiting gyms, massage establishments, tattoo studios, piercing studios, or cosmetology salons; provided, however, that the use of drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options for food and drinks is allowed and highly encouraged throughout the limited duration of this executive order.

On March 19th, the following orders were issued by Governor Abbott: 

  • Order No. 1: In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, every person in Texas shall avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.
  • Order No. 2: In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, people shall avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts, or visiting gyms or massage parlors; provided, however, that the use of drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options is allowed and highly encouraged throughout the limited duration of this executive order.
  • Order No. 3: In accordance with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC, people shall not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.

For more information, visit the State of Texas website. 

Arlington’s Stay Home, Work Safe Business Regulations

What’s allowed:

  • Individuals may leave their homes only for essential travel, essential activities, or to operate essential businesses. This includes traveling to work at an essential business, traveling for the health of yourself or another person or a pet, leaving to get food and supplies, or getting outside to exercise.
  • Essential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies and other establishments that sell household goods can remain open but must enforce social distancing. 
  • Restaurants, bars and other businesses that are closed to the public under the order can continue providing take out, curbside pick-up, delivery, or drive-through services.
  • Businesses that provide essential services for home maintenance, such as plumbers, roofers and electricians.
  • Businesses that supply other essential businesses with support or supplies needed to operate, such as accounting or legal services.
  • Charitable work, banking, real estate transactions, childcare services, moving services, news media, construction work with a valid permit.

    What’s not allowed:

  • Elective medical, surgical, and dental procedures.
  • Non-essential visitors at nursing homes, retirement, and long-term care facilities, except for critical assistance or for end-of-life visitation.
  • Price gouging on items such as groceries, meals, beverages, toilet items, medicine, medical equipment and supplies.
  • Public dining inside restaurants, bars or other establishments with dining areas.
  • Going to the gym or in-person exercise classes.
  • If someone in a household has tested positive for COVID-19, the household is ordered to isolate at home.

These regulations remain in effect until April 30, 2020, unless terminated earlier by the City Council. 

If you are unsure if your business is essential or non-essential, you can visit CISA.gov for more information.