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Everything’s bigger in Texas—including workforce safety and compliance risks. Between the region’s hot climate, large number of businesses, and concentration of hazardous industries, employers in the Lone Star State face myriad operational issues and compliance concerns. 

Don’t put your business at risk of penalties, lawsuits, increased insurance expenses, and the other expenses that follow in the wake of avoidable safety incidents. Keep your people safe, remain on the right side of the law, and stay ahead of the competition with KPA’s EHS and workforce compliance resources.

Texas COVID-19 State Regulations

Below is a round-up of COVID-19 state regulations for employers navigating how to operate safely during the pandemic. If you believe there may be a discrepancy between a state and local order that affects you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

[Updated 11/17/20]

Reopening: Texans Helping Texans Plan

Update 9/18/20: Effective on September 21, 2020, restaurants, retail, gyms, museums, libraries, and office buildings may operate at 75% capacity. Bars and night clubs will stay closed.

Update 10/19/20: The Governor’s Strike Force website has updated its Open Texas Checklists By Industry section.

Update 10/12/2020: Executive Order No. GA-32 issued on October 7, 2020, takes effect on October 14, 2020. Businesses in Texas may operate at 75% capacity, except for bars that may operate at 50% capacity indoors provided there aren’t high hospitalization rates or their county has filed the appropriate paperwork. Other organizations like religious services and daycare services are not limited in capacity, provided they adhere to social distancing and health and safety requirements. See pages 2 through 5 for specific details. Further details can be found on the Executive Order.

Update 9/15/20: Amended Executive Order GA-28 prohibits mass gatherings in outdoor settings of 10 or more people prohibited per section 5 of the proclamation on page 2.

Update 9/7/20: Governor Abbott extended the statewide disaster declaration on September 7, 2020.

Update 7/2/20: Executive Order GA-28 was issued in response to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases. Under this Order, bars are ordered to shut down if they receive more than 51% receipts for sales of alcohol and can offer delivery or take out. As of June 29,2020, restaurants can have up to 50% of their total capacity. Outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more must approved by local government.Rafting and tubing are ordered to close.

Update 6/29/20: Governor Abbott announced a temporary pause on reopening efforts throughout the state. Of note, businesses that are open under the previous phases can keep operating at the same occupancy levels, as long as they meet the health and safety protocols from the Texas Department of State Health Services. Residents should wear a mask, wash their hands, and practice social distancing.

Update 6/24/20: Executive Order GA-26 was amended to authorize mayors and judges to issue restrictions on outdoor gatherings of 100 people.

Update: Beginning June 3, 2020, Texas will enter Phase III of its reopening. All businesses may open at 50% of total capacity. There are no limits for certain organizations like those considered essential by the Department of Homeland Security, a day care provider, or youth camp. If businesses like nail/hair salons or other personal care services can maintain 6-foot social distancing requirements, the 50% total capacity doesn’t apply. Executive Order GA-26 has further details.

Update: As part of Amended Executive Order GA-23 and Executive Order GA-23, restaurants, massage services, child care centers, bars, zoos, aquariums, youth day camps, bowling alleys, and certain professional sports (without spectators) may begin reopening with safety measures in place. Additionally in the amended executive order No. GA-23, water parks, driver education, adult recreational sports, and food court dining in malls may reopen with safety measures in place.

Update: Beginning May 18, 2020, Texas has announced it is entering Phase II of its reopening plan. Under Executive Order 20-23, additional businesses will be phased in throughout the month. For example, bars can begin reopening on May 22, 2020, and child care centers on May 18, 2020. Businesses should review industry checklists provided by the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas.

Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-16 to begin Texas’ phased reopening starting on April 24, 2020. The complete Texans Helping Texans Plan can be found here. Executive Order GA-18 was released on April 27, 2020 to replace Executive Order GA-16 to further expand reopening services in Texas to limit the number of people inside a business or establishment, like a restaurant, mall, or museum, to 25% occupancy.

As long as it complies with the Texas Department of State Health Services’ requirements, non-essential retail businesses may open for “retail-to-go,” so that products or services can be picked up, delivered by mail, or delivered to a customer’s home.

Please review local and county orders; there are several counties and cities like Dallas, Bexar, and Travis issuing their own orders about employees requiring face coverings.

Additional Resources

Executive Order GA-23 (Phase 2 Expanded Reopening)

Executive Order GA-21

Executive Order GA-15

Executive Order GA-16

Executive Order GA-17

COVID-19: Guidance for Employers, Employees, and Customers of Reopened Retail Services

Texans Helping Texans Plan

Texas Minimum Recommended Health Protocols

Face Covering Mandate

Effective July 3, 2020, Executive Order No. GA-29 was issued for statewide face covering. Counties that have more than 20 COVID-19 cases must adhere to the Order, as well as anyone who enters a public building, is outside where social distancing requirements can’t be met, inside commercial entities, or gatherings with more than 10 people.

Exceptions can be found on page 3 of Executive Order. Counties may opt-out, but must file with the Texas Emergency Management and must have less than 20 COVID-19 cases.

Additional Resources

Executive Order GA-29

Texas Department of State Health Services

Texas Executive Orders & Public Health Disaster Declaration

Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM)

GA-29 Exemption Form

Texas Minimum Recommended Health Protocols

Essential Services and Activities

Who: Texas employers, employees, and residents

When: April 2, 2020 through April 30, 2020

What: Governor Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order advising Texans to minimize social gatherings and in-person contact with people outside their households. The Order specifies that residents should restrict their activities to obtaining or providing essential services. Essential services are defined as those listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in its Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 2.0, plus religious services conducted in houses of worship. You may request that your business be designated as essential by the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

Residents shall follow all federal guidelines for social distancing and sanitation. All workers should provide services remotely when possible. Schools will remain closed to in-person attendance until May 4, 2020.

The state Order supersedes local Orders when such Orders restrict essential services allowed by the state Order, or prohibits gatherings allowed by the state Order.


  • Determine if your business is defined as essential. Request guidance as needed.
  • Arrange for employees to work remotely whenever possible.
  • Ensure that you are following the federal social distancing and sanitation guidelines at your place of business, to protect employees and customers.
  • When you’ve developed a plan to respond to the new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
  • Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
  • Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.
  • There may be potential discrepancies between state and local orders. If you believe there may be a discrepancy affecting you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Additional Resources

Executive Order No. GA-14

List of Essential Services, and Request for Designation as Such

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 2.0

Download the COVID-19 Operations Checklist

This checklist reviews the steps to create a thoughtful COVID-19 operating strategy.
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