Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
NOTE: Because the COVID-19 situation is dynamic, with new governmental measures each day, employers should consult with counsel for the latest developments and updated guidance on this topic.
On March 24, 2020, Collin County, Texas Judge Chris Hill issued the county’s widely anticipated “stay-at-home” order (Order) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, making it one of 22 Texas counties or cities that have issued, or will be issuing, an order of this type to date.
Texas Counties and Cities with Stay-at-Home Order Issued or *Forthcoming
Similar to other stay-at-home orders, the Collin County Order mandates that all persons in Collin County stay home, except for travel related to “essential activities,” which notably does not include “entertainment activities.”
The Collin County Order, however, is noticeably different from the other stay-at-home orders issued by sister counties in at least one respect—it is much less restrictive to businesses operating within the county. While many of the other stay-at-home orders distinguish between “essential” and “nonessential” businesses—ordering the latter to cease all onsite operations—the Collin County Order does not make such a distinction.
Instead, the Collin County Order acknowledges that “[a]ll businesses, jobs, and workers are essential to the financial health and well-being of [the] local economy and therefore are essential to the financial health and well-being of Collin County citizens. Persons who are employed need to stay employed. Persons who lack employment need to gain employment. Businesses that are able to remain open need to remain open.”
Thus, rather than ordering nonessential businesses to cease onsite operations, the Collin County Order simply mandates that “[a]ll businesses and employers…take actions necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19, to increase social distancing in the normal course of business activities, and to provide for a safe and healthy work environment.” The Order does prohibit certain Collin County citizens from reporting to work (e.g., individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 or reside in a household with someone who has, high-risk individuals, etc.); but, it does not force any business—essential, nonessential, or otherwise—to shut down its operations.
Nevertheless, businesses must remain mindful that they are still subject to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s March 19 Executive Order, which, among other things, prohibits restaurants and similar businesses from offering dine-in services and also prohibits social gatherings of more than 10 people. As the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is constantly evolving, businesses should also continue to monitor developments at the federal, state, and local levels, and contact experienced legal counsel to assist with any questions regarding their obligations under these types of orders and mandates.