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In brief

Effective 10 March 2021, the state of Texas has lifted mask requirements and business occupancy limits, implemented at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.


In more detail

Texas has become one of the first states to eliminate COVID-19-related mask requirements and business occupancy limits. During a press conference in Lubbock on Tuesday, 2 March, Governor Greg Abbott announced the end of the Texas statewide mask mandate, and rescinded all limits on business occupancy that were introduced at the beginning of the pandemic last year. The new policy takes effect in one week.

The lifting of restrictions is applicable to those counties in which hospitalizations rates have declined below a threshold in the Executive Order, as set out here. Any conflicting local or state provisions are superseded. Businesses, however, may impose additional hygiene measures as appropriate with health guidelines, including wearing masks. If COVID-19 hospitalizations in any of the 22 hospital regions in Texas increase above 15% of the hospital bed capacity in that region for seven straight days, a County Judge in that region may use certain COVID-19 mitigation strategies.

“Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities,” Abbott said. “Too many have struggled to pay bills. It is now time to open Texas 100%.” Abbott acknowledged that COVID-19 is still affecting the state, saying “make no mistake, COVID has not suddenly disappeared. COVID still exists in Texas, in the United States and across the globe… but it is clear from the recoveries, the vaccinations, the reduced hospitalizations and the safe practices that Texans are using, that state mandates are no longer needed.”

The number of vaccines in Texas will continue to increase rapidly and the number of active COVID-19 cases are at the lowest since November of 2020. Effective Wednesday, 10 March, all businesses of any type may reopen to 100% capacity without a mask mandate.

“Businesses may still limit capacity or implement additional safety protocols at their own discretion,” Abbott said, adding that “today’s announcement does not abandon safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year. Instead, it is a reminder that each person has a role to play in their own personal safety and the safety of others. With this executive order, we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny.”

This recent announcement also follows Abbott’s State of the State address on 1 February, where he mentioned that he planned to ask the Legislature to work on an immunity provision in Texas law for employers.

Click here for additional information, guidelines and the Governor’s statement.

Author

C. Thomas Kruse serves as the Firm’s Litigation Practice Group Chair for Texas. He has three decades’ worth of experience as lead counsel in the courtroom (jury and bench trials), and in appeals and arbitrations of complex commercial matters. He has represented clients before the ICC Court of Arbitration as well as in AAA arbitration. He clerked for the Hon. Ricardo H. Hinojosa in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas from 1989 to 1990. Tom is board-certified in Civil Trial Law by The Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He has been recognized professionally numerous times by legal institutions and directories, including Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, The Best Lawyers in America and Texas Super Lawyers.

Author

Nick Kennedy helps clients avoid or win disputes related to international law, class actions, antitrust law, trade secrets, California Proposition 65 and general commercial issues. He focuses primarily on the consumer products and retail, software and technology, and manufacturing, infrastructure and energy industries. In addition to domestic litigation, Nick regularly represents clients in international arbitration and actions for enforcement of foreign arbitration awards and judgments. He has litigated throughout the United States and has arbitrated cases around the world involving the rules of most major arbitral institutions, including the ICC, ICDR, ICSID, UNCITRAL, JAMS, SCC, AAA, and LCIA. Nick graduated from Harvard University and the UCLA School of Law, where he was a member of the UCLA Law Review and was awarded Order of the Coif. He also externed for the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He maintains an active pro bono practice that has included serving as first chair in a trial to restore mental health benefits for a developmentally delayed toddler and contributing to an amicus brief at the US Supreme Court in a seminal marriage equality case. Nick regularly writes and speaks on class actions, international law, and cross border issues including protection of the attorney/client privilege. He serves as the North American editor of Baker McKenzie's Global Arbitration News blog.

Author

Lola Ojeniyi is an Associate in Baker McKenzie Houston office.