Governor Abbott issued Executive Order No. GA-34 yesterday (March 2, 2021) relating to the COVID-19 disaster. For many court personnel, the new order raised questions about the effect, if any, on court operations. Thankfully, the Office of Court Administration quickly sent out COVID Update #20. If you did not receive it, I have pasted the update below in its entirety.
If you haven’t yet seen GA-34, here’s a quick summary. Effective March 10, 2021, Abbott ordered that, in all Texas counties without high hospitalizations, there are no COVID-19 operating limits for any business or other establishment, although face coverings are still strongly encouraged when it is not feasible to maintain social distancing of six feet from a person not in the same household. No jurisdiction, however, may require a person to wear or mandate face coverings.
In areas that have seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients exceeds 15% of total hospital capacity, a county judge may use certain mitigation strategies. The strategies include operating limits at no less than 50% of total occupancy on businesses or other establishments, but no operating limits are allowed to be imposed for religious services, public and private schools and institutions of higher education, and child-care services.
Notably, no jurisdiction may impose a penalty of any kind for failure to wear a face covering or for failure to mandate the customers or employees wear face coverings. Trespassing laws, however, may be enforced and violators may be removed at the request of a business establishment or property owner.