Updated October 7, 2020

October 7th update:

On October 7th, Governor Abbott released a new emergency executive order affecting the opening of Texas. The October 7th order, GA-32, available here, provides for further openings, including allowing some standalone bars to operate at reduced capacity, increasing the capacity of indoor meeting space to 75 percent, and more. GA-32 takes effect on October 14, 2020.

GA-32 continues to allow indoor areas of restaurants, retail establishments, and gyms in most areas of Texas to operate at a maximum 75 percent capacity. 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-32 retains the Governor’s face mask requirements, and physical distancing requirements remain in place.

Under GA-32, indoor meetings and other gatherings may occur at 75 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-32 allows 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.”
  • Meetings and events: Indoor meetings and other indoor gatherings may occur at 75 percent occupancy capacity, and subject to the physical distancing requirements found in these standards of operation issued by the State of Texas.
  • Hotel restaurants and dining areas: Effective October 14th, indoor areas in restaurants can operate 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.  Outdoor areas of restaurants can open at 100 percent occupancy.
  • Indoor areas of hotel bars and other alcoholic beverage service outlets in hotels can operate at up to 75 percent maximum capacity.  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 indicates the establishment does not derive 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.
  • Outdoor areas of hotel bars and other outdoor alcoholic beverage service outlets in hotels can operate at up to 100 percent capacity.  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 indicates the establishment does not derive more than 50 percent of its revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages, hotel bars may continue to operate at 100 percent occupancy outdoors with strict physical distancing and mask requirements 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 outdoor bar service only for guests seated at a table in a dining area. Do not allow guests to gather in groups at the bar and ensure physical distancing and mask provisions are strictly enforced where social distancing is not feasible (e.g.; entry and exit of the bar).
  • Bars that derive more than 50 percent of their revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages (note these types of bars are unusual in hotels):  Indoor areas in bars that derive more than half of their revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages can open at up to 50 percent maximum capacity if the county judge files a form with TABC permitting such action in that county.  Outdoor areas in bars that derive more than half of their revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages can open at up at 100 percent maximum capacity if the county judge files a form with TABC permitting such action in that county.
  • Pools and other water features: Pools and other water features can operate at up to 75 percent maximum occupancy and subject to physical distancing requirements and mask requirements where physical distancing is not feasible..
  • Meetings and events: Indoor meetings and other indoor gatherings may occur at 75 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.

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.

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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