Gov. Greg Abbott issues essential services-only order until Apr 30; schools to remain closed until May 4
The state has provided a list of what is considered an essential service or activity.
Author: Shawna M Reding, Jeff Bell
Published: 2:50 pm CDT Mar 31, 2020
Updated: 4:23 pm CDT March 31, 2020
AUSTIN, Texas — In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Tuesday (Mar 31) an executive order. It allows only essential services in the state until Apr 30 to promote social distancing and stop the spread of the coronavirus in Texas. Schools will remain closed until at least May 4, he said.
The order requires Texans only to leave home for essential work or to access essential services, such as for groceries or exercise. The guidelines for essential services are based on the rules from Homeland Security CISA.
The state has listed what is considered essential activities and services on the Texas Emergency Management website.
Health care/public health
Law enforcement, public safety, and other first responders
Food and agriculture
Water and wastewater
Transportation and logistics
Public works and infrastructure support services
Communications and information technology
Other community- or government-based operations and essential functions
Defense industrial base
Residential/shelter facilities and services
Hygiene products and services
Religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship
Other services as approved by the Texas Division of Emergency Management
Abbott said religious services would be allowed to continue as long as they conduct remotely or, if done in-person, enforce social distancing rules such as limited, drive-thru services.
Physical activities such as jogging, cycling, hunting, or fishing are allowed, so long as each person takes necessary precautions to limit contact with people outside the same household.
The order renews and expands previous directives that banned restaurant dining, bars, gyms, and massage establishments, adding tattoo studios, piercing studios, and cosmetology salons.
The order will supersede any local laws, the governor said. Abbott said the request was not a “stay-at-home” order because Texans are allowed to leave home, although only for the listed essential services and while keeping social distance.
Abbott on Tuesday said 3,266 Texans have tested positive for COVID-19 and 122 Texas counties have at least one case. Less than 10% of tests conducted in Texas have come back with positive results. Most positive cases so far have resulted from before social distancing measures were introduced. There have been 41 deaths in the state, he said.
Around 11% of the cases in Texas have required hospitalization, Abbott said.
On March 29, Gov. Abbott expanded an executive order requiring those flying into Texas from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Orleans to quarantine. Abbott expanded that to include travel by road into Texas from “any location in the state of Louisiana.” Anyone also flying into Texas from Miami, Detroit, Chicago, California or Washington state must also quarantine for 14 days.
Many Texas cities and counties, including Travis and Williamson counties, have issued orders for residents to stay home and for non-essential businesses to close amid the pandemic. Abbott previously said he is holding off on a state-wide order, as there are many counties across Texas that have not confirmed coronavirus cases.
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