On March 2, 2021, Governor Abbott of Texas announced a new executive order ending all statewide pandemic restrictions, including the statewide face covering mandate. The order will be effective on March 10, 2021.
The new executive order allows all businesses of any type to open at 100% capacity and rescinds the governor’s previous order requiring Texans to cover their faces.
All places of business, including restaurants, event venues and bars, will be allowed to reopen at full capacity. Businesses are no longer mandated to require face coverings, but they can still institute their own individual face covering requirements. Stores like Kroger, Target, and others have already announced plans to continue to require face masks in their locations in Texas for the foreseeable future.
The order does give businesses the power to still require face coverings and limit capacity if they choose. Meaning a customer can be refused service, but businesses can no longer point to the law being on their side.
However, the executive order allows for local restrictions to return should hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients top 15% for more than seven consecutive days. In that case, county judges in those areas would be permitted to use mitigation strategies to prevent the further spread of the disease, including face covering requirements and capacity restrictions. However, enforcement may be difficult as Abbott’s order prohibits judges from jailing people and imposing penalties for not wearing a face covering. Local orders may also not limit capacity in businesses below 50%.
Virtus Law, PLLC continues to monitor developments in this area and will continue to post relevant updates to this website.