Texas Governor Greg Abbott has issued Executive Order GA-14, which became effective today, April 2, 2020. This order adopts the definition “essential services” from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s “Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 2.0” but also adds religious services to the list of allowed activities. Notably, this statewide definition of “essential” has a pre-emptive effect on local orders: “This executive order shall supersede any conflicting order issued by local officials in response to the COVID-19 disaster, but only to the extent that such a local order restricts essential services allowed by this executive order or allows gatherings prohibited by this executive order.”
For those businesses not covered by the CISA guidance adopted by Executive order GA-14, the State of Texas has opened an internet portal that allows a business to request classification as “essential.” However, this request is only for businesses that do not fall within the scope of the CISA guidance adopted by Executive Order GA-14. This is not a method to determine whether a business is categorized as “essential” under the CISA guidance. As part of the request, the requestor must certify that CISA guidance does not include the requesting business, but that the requestor is asking that the business be designated essential because it is in the best interests of the State of Texas to have the business workforce continue at full capacity in order to properly respond to the COVID-19 emergency. Therefore, if you use this resource to request your business be categorized as “essential,” in the event of a negative determination, you may not be able to argue that your business falls within the CISA guidance adopted by Executive Order GA-14.
If you have questions or concerns about how these orders apply to your business or how to request a designation that your business be classified as “essential,” don’t hesitate to contact one of us at Cantey Hanger.
David Denny is an attorney in the Litigation Section of Cantey Hanger LLP. For more information call 214-720-4236 or visit www.canteyhanger.com.
This article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice or substitute for consulting an attorney. We recommend that you discuss your particular situation with your attorney when you need legal advice.