On March 2, Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-34 that lifted the mask and occupancy limit mandates in Texas on the state level, effective March 10, 2021, and only gives counties the authority to re-impose the restrictions under certain circumstances, including hospitalization rates, and with some limits.
How This Impacts You
If you’re a business owner, you probably have questions regarding how this executive order will affect you, and in particular, how it might affect your legal exposure in regard to customers, employees, vendors, and others who enter your business. Broadly speaking, while the state is no longer requiring that everyone wear a face covering while in a building open to the public, private businesses are still able to enforce mask-wearing and other safety measures on their property. In other words, if you want to continue requiring individuals in your business to wear a mask or limit occupancy, you can make that choice, but you don’t have to unless the county re-imposes the restrictions.
Notably, the executive order does not shield businesses from liability. Thus, businesses that open their doors to employees, customers, etc. may still be subject to legal claims by employees, customers, or other individuals who claim to have contracted COVID after entering an unsafe place of business. Legal claims, even if ultimately not successful, can be costly.
How Should You Respond?
What steps a business may need to take to meet an acceptable standard of safety can depend on the particular business. But business owners should be mindful that, even though the governor has set aside the mask and occupancy limit mandates, requiring mask-wearing and occupancy limits are safety measures that could be taken to try to minimize a business’s legal risk.
Our employment team here at Richards Rodriguez & Skeith is happy to discuss how you can make the best decisions for your business.
Contact us today to learn more about recent legislative changes related to the ongoing COVID crisis and recovery plans, or for any of your business needs. Simply call, email, or use the help tools on each page of our website to receive a prompt response to your inquiry.