Central Texas Counties and the Cities of Austin and San Antonio Ordered to Stay Safe at Home

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NOTE: Because the COVID-19 situation is dynamic, with new governmental measures each day, employers should consult with counsel for the latest developments and updated guidance on this topic.

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases steadily rises throughout Texas while testing resources remain scarce, Central Texas counties issued “shelter-in-place” orders in an effort to #flattenthecurve.

By the end of the day on March 24, 2020, Travis, Williamson, and Bexar Counties each issued shelter-in-place orders. (Note: the cities of Austin [Travis County] and San Antonio [Bexar County] issued orders as well, but these municipal orders are coextensive with the applicable county order, except as such differences are identified in the Essential Businesses Chart at the end of this article.)

In addition to information regarding day-to-day activities of persons living in these counties, all of the orders contain information critical to the operations of a variety of businesses operating there.

Travis County (Travis County Order)

  • When does the Travis County Order go into effect?

The Travis County Order is effective as of 11:59 p.m. on March 24, 2020, and continues until 11:59 p.m. on April 13, 2020, unless it is terminated or modified by a subsequent order.

  • What activities does the Travis County Order prohibit?
    • All public and private gatherings of any number of people outside a single household or dwelling unit except to participate in Essential Activities or to perform or obtain services from an Essential Business, Government Function or services, or Critical Infrastructure.
      • The Travis County Order does not prohibit the gathering of members of a household within the household’s dwelling unit. You can still spend time with your family in your own home.
    • All travel, including, but not limited to, travel on foot, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, automobile, or public transit is prohibited, except for purposes of Essential Activities or to perform or obtain services from an Essential Business, Government Function or service, or Critical Infrastructure. To the greatest extent feasible, people riding on public transit must comply with social distancing and hygiene requirements
  • Which businesses are closed?
    • All Business Operations must cease all activities, except:
      • Essential Businesses, as defined in the chart below;
      • Employees and contractors working from home; and
      • Businesses maintaining minimal basic operations including, maintaining the value of inventory, ensuring security, processing payroll and employee benefits, and facilitating employees’ ability to work remotely from their residences.
  • Anything else important?
    • Practice social distancing whenever you leave your home for any reason.
    • Any deadlines imposed by county law, rule, or other regulation are suspended until May 1, 2020.
  • How will the Travis County Order be enforced?

The Travis County Order empowers the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, the Travis County Fire Marshal's Office, and other peace officers to enforce the Travis County Order through criminal or civil enforcement. More specifically, a violation is a misdemeanor that could lead to a fine not to exceed $1,000 or confinement in jail for 180 days or less – or both.

  • What should business owners do?
    • Post a copy of the Travis County Order at the place of business. Send a copy to anyone who asks for one. The Travis County Order is available on the Travis County’s website and is linked above.
    • Businesses should cease operations if not deemed Essential or otherwise exempted.

Williamson County Stay Home Stay Safe Order (Williamson County Order)

  • When does the Williamson County Order go into effect?

Like the Travis County Order, the Williamson County Order took effect at 11:59 p.m. on March 24, 2020, and will continue to be in effect until 11:59 p.m. on April 13, 2020.

  • What activities does the Williamson County Order prohibit?
    • All public and private gatherings of any number of people outside their residences except as specifically allowed by the Williamson County Order.
      • The Williamson County Order does not prohibit the gathering of members of a household within the household’s dwelling unit. You can still spend time with your family in your own home.
    • All travel, including, but not limited to, travel on foot, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, automobile, or public transit is prohibited, except for purposes of Essential Activities, to operate Essential Business, or to maintain Essential Government Functions. To the greatest extent feasible, people riding on public transit shall comply with social-distancing requirements.
  • Which businesses are closed?
    • All businesses operating within Williamson County must cease all activities except:
      • Essential Businesses, as defined in the chart below;
      • Employees and contractors exclusively working from home; and
      • Businesses maintaining minimal basic operations including, maintaining the value of inventory, ensuring security, processing payroll and employee benefits, and facilitating employees’ ability to work remotely from their residences.
  • Anything else important?
    • Practice social distancing whenever you leave your home.
    • Religious and worship services can only take place via video and/or teleconference.
    • All delivery hour restrictions are suspended for entities involved in the selling or distribution of food products, medicine, or medical supplies in Williamson County.
    • You cannot buy or sell the greater of: (a) twelve toilet paper rolls per purchase; or (b) one package of toilet paper per purchase.
    • Non-essential visitors are prohibited from entering nursing homes, retirement homes, and long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance or end-of-life visitation.
  • How will the Williamson County Order be enforced?

A failure to comply with the Williamson County Order is a criminal offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or confinement in jail for up to 180 days. The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, Williamson County Constables, Williamson County Fire Marshal’s Office, and other licensed peace officers have the power to enforce the Williamson Order.

  • What should business owners do?
    • Post a copy of the Williamson County Order at the place of business. Send a copy to anyone who asks for one. The Williamson County Order is available the county’s website and is linked above.
    • Businesses should cease operations if not deemed Essential or otherwise exempted.  

Bexar County Stay Home Work Safe Order (Bexar County Order)

  • When does the Bexar County Order go into effect?

The Bexar County Order took effect at 11:59 p.m. on March 24, 2020, and continues through 11:59 p.m. on April 9, 2020, unless extended, terminated early by the County Judge, or otherwise indicated.

  • What activities does the Bexar County Order prohibit?
    • All public and private gatherings of any number of people outside a single household or dwelling unit except to participate in Exempted Activities or engage in work for Exempted Business.
      • The Order does not prohibit the gathering of members of a household within the household’s dwelling unit. You can still spend time with your family in your own home.
  • Which businesses are closed?
    • All businesses operating within Bexar County must cease all activities except:
      • Exempted Businesses, as defined in the chart below;
      • Employees or contractors working from home;
      • Operations necessary to maintain security, upkeep, and maintenance of premises, equipment, or inventory; and
      • IT or other operations that facilitate employees’ abilities to work from home.
  • Anything else important?
    • Restaurants, prepared food retailers, microbreweries, micro-distilleries, or wineries may provide only room service, take out, delivery, drive-in, or drive through services and must adhere to social distancing requirements for any food preparation, waiting area, or queue.
    • Bexar County rental property owners must temporarily suspend evictions for at least the next 30 days. Foreclosure proceedings are also temporarily suspended for 30 days.
    • Non-essential in-person court proceedings are restricted within Bexar County courts.
    • People who are sick should stay home.
  • How will the Bexar County Order be enforced?

Any peace officer or other person with lawful authority is authorized to enforce the Bexar County Order. Violators may face a fine up to $1,000 or a jail term of up to 180 days.

  • What should business owners do?
    • Post a copy of the Bexar County Order at the place of business. Send a copy to anyone who asks for one. The Bexar County Order is available the county’s website and is linked above.
    • Businesses should cease operations if not deemed Essential or otherwise exempted.

 

Chart of Essential Businesses. Note that the omission of a particular business category below means the item is not addressed specifically in these orders; omission from this chart does not mean necessarily that the category is not essential. Employers with questions about the nature of their business should consider consulting with counsel.

 

Austin

Travis County

Williamson County

San Antonio

Bexar County

Childcare Facilities

X (stable groups of 10 or less)

X (stable groups of 10 or less)

X (stable groups of 12 or less)

X

X

CISA Sectors

X

 

X

X

X

Critical Infrastructure

X

X

X

X

X

Critical Trades – Plumbers, Electricians, Exterminators, Etc.

X

X

X

X

X

Educational Institutions – Distance Learning, Essential Functions, Etc.

X

X

X

X

X

Financial Institutions

X

X

X

X

X

Food Cultivation – Farming, Livestock, etc.

X

X

X

X

 

Food Delivery Services

X

X

X

X

X

Funeral Services

X

X

X

X

X

Gas Stations

X

X

X

X

X

Government Functions – Law Enforcement, Jails, EMS, etc.

X

X

X

X

X

Grocery Stores

X

X

X

X

X

Hardware and Supply Stores

X

X

X

 

 

Healthcare Operations

X

X

X

X

X

Home-Based Care and Services

X

X

X

X

X

Hotels and Motels

X

X

X

X

X

IT Services

X

X

X

X

X

Laundromats and Dry Cleaners

X

 

X

X

X

Mail and Delivery Services

X

X

X

X

X

Moving Supply Services

X

X

X

X

 

News Media

X

X

X

X

X

Pets – Veterinary Services and Food

X

X

X

X

X

Professional Services – Legal, Accounting, Insurance

X

X

X (Does not mention insurance specifically)

X

X

Real Estate

X

X

X

X

X

Residential Facilities and Shelters

X

X

X

X

X

Restaurants for Consumption Off-Premises

X

X

X

X

X

Social Services

X

X

X

X

X

Transportation

X

X

X

X

X

Transportation – Mechanics, Dealerships, Airport Operations, etc.

X

X

X

X

X

Worship – Remote Viewing Only

X

 

X (Staffed by 10 people or less)

X

X

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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