Updated July 2, 2020

July 2nd update: Statewide face-covering requirement

On July 2nd, Governor Abbott issued executive order GA-29, available here, mandating that every person in Texas shall wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when inside a commercial building or space open to the public, or when in an outdoor public space, wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of physical distance from another person not in the same household. The State’s face-covering requirement does not apply to the following:

  1. Any person younger than 10 years of age;
  2. Any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering;
  3. Any person while the person is consuming food or drink, or is seated at a restaurant to eat or drink;
  4. Any person while the person is exercising outdoors or engaging in physical activity outdoors, and is maintaining a safe distance from other people not in the same household;
  5. Any person while the person is driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver;
  6. Any person obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the face-covering for security surveillance;
  7. Any person who is voting;
  8. Any person who is actively providing or obtaining religious worship;
  9. Any person while the person is giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience;
  10. Any person in a county that meets the requisite criteria promulgated by TDEM and whose county judge has opted out of the face-covering requirement by filing with TDEM (this list will be updated later).

Following a verbal or written warning for a first-time violator of this face covering requirement, a person’s second violation shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed $250. Per the Order, local law enforcement officials “can and should” enforce the statewide face-covering mandate.

GA-29 does not appear to preempt local orders mandating that businesses adopt and enforce policies that require guests to wear face-coverings, so both a local face-covering requirement for businesses and the state face-covering requirement for individuals will apply.

July 2nd update: Allowing local officials to limit outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people

On July 2nd, Governor Abbott issued a proclamation, accessible here, amending GA-28’s limits on outdoor gatherings. The July 2nd proclamation allows mayors and county judges to prohibit outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people. Formerly, GA-28 allowed local officials to limit gatherings of more than 100 people. This gathering limitation only applies to outdoor gatherings. Outdoor gathering limitations do not apply to swimming pools, water parks, professional events, zoos, amusement parks, or other items included in paragraphs 1, 2, or 4 of GA-28.

June 26th update:

On June 26th, Governor Abbott again amended his executive order affecting the opening of Texas. The June 26th order, GA-28, available here, mandates restaurants shall again return to a maximum 50 percent occupancy capacity effective June 29, 2020. This applies to hotel restaurants and other hotel dining areas.

Additionally, under GA-28, standalone bars that derive more than 50 percent of their revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages are permitted to remain open only for pickup/to-go service. While most hotels do not derive more than 50 percent of their revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages, hotels should take great care and consider reducing bar service to guests seated at a table in a dining area (at no more than 50 percent occupancy), or for to-go service or in-room dining.

Here is our summary of the authority for various aspects of hotel facilities to operate:

  • General hotel operations for accommodating overnight guests: As with prior executive orders, GA-26 continues to allow hotels to accommodate overnight guests at full capacity. Hotel operations for overnight accommodations are considered essential operations under the Department of Homeland Security’s “Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers.”
  • Hotel restaurants and dining areas: Restaurants can open at up to 50 percent capacity. THLA interprets this restaurant provision as applying to hotel restaurants, dining areas such as a hotel’s breakfast area, and other spaces where food-service occurs. Hotels providing dining service should follow the State operational checklists found here.
  • Hotel bars and other alcoholic beverage service: Most hotels that sell alcohol hold TABC alcoholic beverage permits that indicate the hotel establishment does not derive more than 50 percent of its revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages. Provided the hotel’s TABC alcoholic beverage permit does not indicate the establishment derives more than 50 percent of its revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages, hotel bars may continue to operate and hotels may continue alcoholic beverage service operations, with strict physical distancing and occupancy limitations in effect.
    • Hotels should take great care and consider bar service only for guests seated at a table in a dining area (at no more than 50 percent occupancy). Alternatively, hotels should consider offering to-go beverage service or in-room dining. Do not allow guests to gather in groups at the bar, and ensure physical distancing is strictly enforced.
    • If you are unsure what type of TABC permit your hotel holds, THLA can assist you. Please call us at 512-474-2996 or email us at news@texaslodging.com.
  • Pools and other water features: Pools and other water features remain at 50 percent maximum occupancy and subject to physical distancing requirements.
  • Meetings and events: Indoor meetings may continue at 50 percent occupancy capacity, and subject to the physical distancing requirements found in these standards of operation issued by the State of Texas. For outdoor events or activities that involve 100 or more persons, check with your city and county officials for additional restrictions or permitting requirements.
  • Gyms and hotel fitness rooms: Gyms can open at 50 percent capacity. Hotels should follow the State operational checklists found here.
  • Massage establishments, personal care services, and beauty services: Massage establishments, personal care services, and beauty services can operate, provided the facility maintains at least six feet of distancing between operating work stations. Hotels providing massage services should follow the State operational checklists found here.
  • Retail outlets: Retail outlets within hotels such as stores, markets, and gift shops are covered by the 50 percent capacity restriction.  Hotels with retail outlets should follow the State operational checklists found here.
  • Valet parking services: Valet parking services may operate. Valet parking services should follow the State operational checklists found here.

Additional information

Physical distancing requirements: For nearly every opened service listed below, the Governor’s minimum standards for operations contain requirements for maintaining physical distancing between groups. Opened businesses are required to operate the facility such that customers or patrons are separated by at least 6 feet from others not within the individual’s group while at the facility. The individual’s group may not exceed 10 individuals who go to the facility together. A group is defined as no more than 10 persons including the members of the household and those persons who traveled together to the event or facility.

Be sure to download the operational checklist for each aspect of hotel operations.

Meetings and events: Meeting and event venues can now operate at up to 50 percent capacity for indoor venues. There is no capacity limit for outdoor meetings and events, but physical distancing must be maintained. Hotels providing meetings and events should follow the State operational checklists found here.

Restaurants, dining areas, and spaces where food-service occurs: Restaurants can open at up to 50 percent capacity indoors.

THLA interprets this restaurant provision as applying to hotel restaurants, dining areas such as a hotel’s breakfast area, and other spaces where food-service occurs.  Capacity limits for restaurants do not apply to outdoor seating areas, and staff are not counted toward the capacity limits. Hotels providing dining service should follow the State operational checklists found here.

Bars: Indoor bars may operate at up to 50 percent capacity. For indoor bars, guests must be seated when served. Hotels providing bar service should follow the State operational checklists found here. (See June 26th update)

Swimming pools: Indoor and outdoor swimming pools may operate at up to 50 percent capacity. If the pool is outdoors without a specific maximum capacity rating, the pool may operate at up to 50 percent of normal operating limits as determined by the pool operator. Hotels should follow the State operational checklists found here.

Hair salons: Cosmetology salons, hair salons, barbershops, 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.

Massage establishments, personal care services, and beauty services: Massage establishments, personal care services, and beauty services can operate, provided the facility maintains at least six feet of distancing between operating work stations. Hotels providing massage services should follow the State operational checklists found here.

Gyms and hotel fitness rooms: Gyms can open at 50 percent capacity. Hotels should follow the State operational checklists found here.

Other public areas: Front desk clerks and other hotel staff should maintain appropriate physical distancing from guests. THLA and safety experts also recommend that hotel staff wear face-coverings and follow recommended national guidance. 

In other public areas such as elevators, hallways, corridors, etc., unrelated people should remain at least six feet apart from each other.  If it is not possible for unrelated people to maintain at least six feet of distance in an area, such as in an elevator, hotels should restrict the number of people in the area at the same time.

Retail outlets: Retail outlets within hotels such as stores, markets, and gift shops are covered by the 50 percent capacity restriction.  Hotels with retail outlets should follow the State operational checklists found here.

Golf courses: Golf courses may operate. Golf course operators should require physical distancing and provide sanitation stations for golfers.

Childcare facilities: Childcare services may fully operate.

Certain attractions, sporting events, zoos. Certain events and facilities may open at 50 percent occupancy:

  • Professional, collegiate, or similar sporting events.
  • water parks;
  • museums and libraries;
  • zoos, aquariums, natural caverns, and similar facilities; and
  • rodeos and equestrian events.

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