News

Non-Essential Closures and Travel Restrictions

April 1, 2020

Through these rapidly changing and uncertain times I am working to keep you as informed as possible. I have been providing updates on my Facebook and Twitter pages. I would encourage you to follow either of these accounts for the most up-to-date information.

Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order issued yesterday, which will become effective at 12:01 a.m. on April 2nd, this coming Thursday, has extended his original order that closed all bars, restaurants and food courts until at least April 30th. In addition, he has ordered all schools closed until at least May 4th.

In addition to these closures, Gov. Abbott has ordered all non-essential businesses closed beginning Thursday morning and is encouraging all businesses to use telecommuting or other means to work remotely where possible.

Many of are left wondering what this means for your day-to-day life. Most importantly, you will still be able to go to the grocery store, pharmacy, gas station, restaurants (for take-out), and the doctor’s office (for medically necessary reasons). Further, you will still be able to leave your house to get some exercise, be it a walk, a run, a hike or bicycle ride. It is important to remember that should you leave for one of these reasons, it is important that you maintain the hygiene standards and social distancing that we have all become so accustomed to in the past few weeks.

Folks who have jobs that are deemed essential will still be able to go to work if their employer has determined that they are not able to work remotely. Many have asked if their job is essential. There are several categories determined by the Department of Homeland Security and you can see them here to determine if your job falls within that category.

If you are an employer that is not included on this list but you have good reason to believe your business should be classified as essential, you can contact the Texas Department of Emergency Management to request that classification at http://tdem.texas.gov/essentialservices/.

Of particular interest to many in East Texas is Gov. Abbott’s Executive Order requiring a 14-day quarantine for individuals who have traveled from Louisiana to Texas. The Order specifically excludes those traveling in connection with commercial activity, military service, emergency response, health response, or critical-infrastructure functions.

Employers are encouraged to communicate with the Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) to preclear their essential employees. Currently, the most efficient way to communicate with TDEM is to contact them at https://tdem.texas.gov/ga-11-and-ga-12-travel-exemption-form/. In the meantime, employers should provide their essential employees with a letter stating that they are an essential employee and describe their essential role. Individuals with specific questions may contact TDEM at cikr@soc.texas.gov.

I understand that we are currently experiencing great disruption to our normal lives, jobs, and worship and I can assure you that every level of government is working to protect everyone’s health and safety as we continue to battle COVID-19. We need everyone’s continued efforts to prevent and stop the spread of the virus: it is the quickest way to get everything going again!

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me or my office if we can be of any assistance during these trying times.

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