Updated September 17, 2020

September 17th update:

On September 17th, Governor Abbott again amended his executive order affecting the opening of Texas. The September 17th order, GA-30, available here, allows restaurants, retail establishments, and gyms in most areas of Texas to operate at a maximum 75 percent capacity effective September 21, 2020. This applies to hotel restaurants and other hotel dining areas. However, in areas of Texas where COVID-19 hospitalization cases exceed 15 percent of the area’s hospital census, restaurant, retail, and gym capacity remain restricted to 50 percent maximum capacity.

GA-30 retains the Governor’s face mask requirements, and physical distancing requirements remain in place.

As with prior orders, GA-30 prohibits outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people without approval from the local mayor or county judge. This 10-person gathering limitation only applies to outdoor gatherings–not indoor 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, 3, or 5 of GA-30.

Under GA-30, indoor meetings may continue at 50 maximum percent occupancy capacity, and subject to the physical distancing requirements found in the standards of operation issued by the State of Texas.

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-30 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 75 percent capacity (except in these areas of Texas). 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 outlets in hotels: 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. Additionally, these hotel bars should have at least some food service available to patrons during the hours the hotel bar is open.
    • Hotels should take great care and consider bar service only for guests seated at a table in a dining area (at no more than 75 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.
  • Gyms and hotel fitness rooms: Gyms and fitness rooms can open at 75 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 75 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.

Prohibiting outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people without local government approval

As with prior orders, GA-30 prohibits outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people without approval from the local mayor or county judge. This gathering limitation only applies to outdoor gatherings–not indoor 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, 3, or 5 of GA-30.

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.

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