Texas Governor Issues Statewide Face Covering Order

This afternoon, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced an Executive Order instituting a statewide face covering mandate Click Here, to go into effect at Noon on tomorrow, Friday, July 3rd. The Governor’s order requires that all persons in Texas (with minimal exceptions) wear a face covering when in public. There is an individual penalty of a warning for first offense and $250 fines for subsequent offenses for failing to comply with this order.  As a result of the Governor’s action today, retailers in Texas will no longer be in the position of enforcing or policing the wearing of face coverings, as it is now mandated statewide for all persons.

Current list of city and county face covering ordinances in Texas

Texas Retailers Association would like to provide as many resources as possible for the retail industry across the state. Please be sure to stay on top of the latest local ordinances by visiting www.txretailers.org regularly. Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Thank you!

Current list of city and county face covering ordinances:

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Extension for Substitutions to WIC Approved Foods

To support our WIC community, Texas WIC is again extending the temporary lifting of restrictions for some food categories. The flexibilities, which were previously extended through June 30, 2020, have now been extended through July 31, 2020. These flexibilities should be utilized only when prescribed food items are unavailable. The temporary WIC food substitutions are listed below.

Temporary Flexibilities Extended Through July 31, 2020

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TRA statement on SCOTX decision on Austin PSL

Late on Friday, June 5th, the Texas Supreme Court issued its decision not to hear the city of Austin’s paid sick leave case (PSL), meaning the Austin ordinance is unconstitutional and voided. The city’s ordinance was struck down as unconstitutional by Texas’ Third Court of Appeals in 2019. Therefore, because the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, the Third Court’s ruling stands. 

Texas retailers are pleased the Texas Supreme Court has confirmed the Third Court of Appeals’ ruling on the Austin PSL ordinance. We continue to believe that one size fits all local employment ordinances are unconstitutional, as ruled by the Third Court of Appeals. These mandated employment ordinances are burdensome and hurt job growth. Most retailers in Texas provide quality wage and benefit packages including paid time off. 

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Governor Abbott Announces Phase III To Open Texas

June 3, 2020 - Governor Greg Abbott today announced the third phase of the State of Texas’ plan to safely open the economy while containing the spread of COVID-19. Under Phase III, effective immediately, all businesses in Texas will be able to operate at up to 50% capacity, with very limited exceptions. Business that previously have been able to operate at 100% capacity may continue to do so, and most outdoor areas are not subject to capacity limits. All businesses and customers should continue to follow minimum standard health protocols laid out by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

As with previous phases, the Phase III plan is based on the advice and support of the four doctors on the Strike Force to Open Texas medical team. Via Executive Order, Phase III begins immediately. A breakdown of Phase III can be found below.

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Governor Abbott Announces Phase Two To Open Texas

Governor Greg Abbott today announced the second phase of the State of Texas' ongoing plan to safely and strategically open Texas while minimizing the spread of COVID-19. Under Phase II, restaurants may increase their occupancy to 50% and additional services and activities that remained closed under Phase I may open with restricted occupancy levels and minimum standard health protocols laid out by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

Additionally, the Governor announced that public schools in Texas have the option to provide in-person summer school so long as they follow social distancing practices and health protocols laid out by DSHS. These classes may begin as soon as June 1st.

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Governor Abbott Announces Phase One To Open Texas, Establishes Statewide Minimum Standard Health Protocols

AUSTIN - Governor Greg Abbott today announced the first phase of the State of Texas' ongoing plan to safely and strategically open Texas while minimizing the spread of COVID-19. Under Phase I, certain services and activities are allowed to open with limited occupancy, and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is issuing minimum standard health protocols for all businesses and individuals to follow. The Governor also outlined special guidance for Texans over 65 and detailed a comprehensive mitigation plan for nursing homes in Texas. The Governor also announced a statewide testing and tracing program developed by DSHS that will help public health officials quickly identify and test Texans who contract COVID-19 and mitigate further spread of the virus. 

The Governor's announcement is accompanied by Texans Helping Texans: The Governor's Report to Open Texas. This detailed report, available on the strike force website, helps Texans understand phase one by outlining the new protocols, guidance, and recommendations. The report also includes a series of Open Texas Checklists that outline DSHS' minimum standard health protocols for all Texans.

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Governor Abbott Reopens Texas Retail

TRA members: 

This afternoon, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced his initial executive orders to re-open the Texas economy from the COVID-19 crisis. Please refer to the Governor’s press release. In the press release you can find the Governor's Executive Orders and details about today's announcements


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Texas Stores Gear up for Retail-to-Go

By Reena Diamante Austin


AUSTIN, Texas — In an effort to get the economy going again, Gov. Greg Abbott is relaxing some restrictions for certain businesses.

“Retail-to-go” is the first phase of re-opening the state's economy for businesses forced to close amid the pandemic. The practice goes into effect Friday and will allow retailers that were deemed non-essential to start doing business again.

The governor's order calls for limited contact with customers by using curbside pickup or delivery services and maintaining social distancing guidelines. But, the big change to a small business is not child’s play. 


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HR and Telemedecine Resources Available from Marsh Wortham

As the country and economy start ramping back up, businesses will struggle with extremely complex human resource decisions. Marsh Wortham has developed additional HR Resources available for TRA members to access in a variety of areas. For example:

• Being cautious not to discriminate against certain classes of employees who may have pre-existing medical conditions;
• Understanding if someone is entitled to unpaid versus paid leave;
• Understanding whether that person may or may not claim unemployment; and,
• Recognizing whether or not the individual can be terminated.
• Conducting Onsite Health Screenings



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SNAP Online Pilot Program

Kentucky, Missouri, and Texas Added to Innovative SNAP Online Pilot Program
USDA is expanding access to innovative online food purchase program

(Washington, D.C., April 21, 2020) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced approval of requests from Kentucky, Missouri, and Texas to provide online purchasing of food to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households. This approval will allow the States to expedite the implementation of online purchasing with currently authorized SNAP online retailers with a target start date to be announced at a later time. Kentucky’s SNAP participation is over 500,000 individuals, more than 225,000 households, and totals nearly $750 million annually in federal funding. Missouri’s SNAP participation is nearly 650,000 individuals, nearly 300,000 households, and totals nearly $1 billion annually in federal funding. Texas’ SNAP participation is over 3.2 million individuals, more than 1.4 million households, and totals nearly $5 billion annually in federal funding. This announcement further demonstrates President Trump’s whole of America approach to fighting the coronavirus pandemic by ensuring those affected are fed.

Background:
The SNAP online pilot is currently operational in Alabama, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Washington State. The authorized retailers working with all pilot states are Amazon and Walmart, while Wrights Market and ShopRite are working with Alabama and New York respectively. USDA previously announced Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, North Carolina, the District of Columbia, and West Virginia would also be joining. With these 16 states, more than half of all households receiving SNAP will have access to online purchasing.

Though the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is receiving interest to expand the SNAP online pilot program, the responsibility is on state agencies, their third-party processor, and any retailers who wish to participate. To ease the process, FNS put together a simplified template for states who wish to enter the online pilot which is provided as an attachment to this letter.

USDA continues to provide significant technical assistance to interested states to ensure that plans are thorough and appropriate preliminary testing is conducted. If not done properly and judiciously, there is a risk to the State’s entire benefit system. Each State, its EBT processor and retailers present their own mix of challenges so FNS is providing customer service based on each of their specific needs.

FNS will continue to work with interested states in advancing their participation in this pilot. Until States are prepared to operate the pilot, USDA recommends States utilize other options that retailers may already provide, such as Pay at Pick-up (also known as “Click and Collect”), where SNAP cardholders can shop online and then pay for their purchase using their EBT card at pick-up. Grocery pickup is already an option that these retailers offer beyond SNAP so they are already thinking through how they can provide a safe environment to do so with the growing concerns around social distancing.

During these challenging times, FNS is working hand-in-hand with state program leadership, to provide support and guidance to adapt to the challenges of this public health emergency. USDA intends to use available program flexibilities and contingencies to continue to serve our program participants. For up to date information and to learn more about flexibilities being used in FNS nutrition programs, please visit the FNS website.

Majority of Americans Still Braving Physical Retailers

As Americans begin to adapt to social distancing measures as a new normal amidst the Covid-19 crisis, the majority are still visiting physical retailers to pick up their essentials. In fact, consumers report grocery and big box stores as some of their top in-store shopping destinations today (72 percent and 69 percent of respondents, respectively), according to a new survey by shopping rewards app, Shopkick.

Shopkick surveyed more than 26,000 consumers across the country between March 31 and April 6 to gain insights into consumers’ in-store shopping behaviors in light of the current crisis.

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Governor Abbot allows retailers to reopen for to-go or delivery only

TRA members: 

Earlier today, Texas Governor Greg Abbott laid out the state’s plans for re-opening the Texas economy from the COVID-19 crisis. Attached is the Governor’s press release. In the press release you can find the Governor's Executive Orders and details about today's announcements.

As part of his plan he issued an executive order today which amends the current Texas “stay at home order” for the retail sector. Today’s order allows for those retailers who are not covered by DHS/CISA guidance, essentially, those who were up to now not deemed essential, to reopen for to-go or delivery only, as of next Friday, April 24th. Today’s order does not change the operations of those retailers who have been operating as current essential businesses such as grocery, pharmacy, home improvement, etc… Therefore, as of next Friday, April 24th, the entire retail sector in Texas will be allowed to operate at some level.


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Governor Abbott Extends Disaster Declaration For COVID-19

Governor Greg Abbott today issued a proclamation extending his Disaster Declaration for all Texas counties in response to COVID-19. Originally issued on March 13th, the Disaster Declaration provides the state a number of resources to effectively serve Texans as the Lone Star State continues to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

"By extending my Disaster Declaration, we are ensuring the state of Texas continues to have adequate resources and capabilities to support our communities and protect public health," said Governor Abbott. "I urge all Texans to continue practicing social distancing and abide by the guidelines laid out by the CDC and my Executive Orders to slow the spread of COVID-19."

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Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order, Implements Statewide Essential Services And Activities Protocols

March 31, 2020 | Austin, Texas | Press Release

Governor Greg Abbott today issued an Executive Order implementing Essential Services and Activities Protocols for the entire state of Texas. The protocols direct all Texans to minimize non-essential gatherings and in-person contact with people who are not in the same household. The Governor’s Executive Order renews and amends his previous order enforcing federal social distancing guidelines for COVID-19, including closing schools and instructing Texans to avoid eating or drinking at bars and restaurants. The protocols allow exceptions for essential activities and services based on the Department of Homeland Security’s guidelines on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce. Examples of these essential services include healthcare, grocery stores, banking and financial services, utilities, child care for essential service employees, and government services. 

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Injunction issued on Dallas PSL ordinance

Despite all we are all going through with the fight against and response to the COVID-19 crisis, this morning we received some good news from another battle TRA has been waging on your behalf. TRA and its fellow members of the Alliance for Securing and Strengthening the Economy in Texas (ASSET) coalition have secured an injunction by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas of the city of Dallas’ paid sick leave ordinance (PSL), which was set to begin enforcement on April 1 (tomorrow).

As we have maintained all along, it is our belief that retailers are committed to the well being of their employees, whether that’s implementing policies to protect employee health and safety, providing benefits or working to ensure they can make payroll so employees can take care of themselves and their families. One-size-fits-all policies of these regulations across Texas does nothing but create uncertainty in our economy, which is the last thing employees, employers and job seekers need in the wake of this unprecedented national crisis. Therefore, Texas retailers welcome the federal court’s ruling today on the Dallas PSL ordinance, and look to the Texas Supreme Court to rule in our favor on the Austin PSL ordinance, so that these local PSL can be ruled unconstitutional statewide.

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Joint Letter to Texas Governor from TRA, RILA and NRF about "Essential Services"

Dear Governor Abbott:

The health and safety of employees, customers and families is the top priority for retailers in Texas. On behalf of the members of the National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the Texas Retailers Association, we appreciate your leadership and the swift efforts of your Administration to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, both in terms of public health as well as the broader economic implications in Texas. Retail is Texas’s largest private-sector employer, supporting over 3.5 million jobs.
Retailers are following recommendations provided by the CDC and share the immediate goal of slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Additionally, many retailers are stepping up during this global health crisis to assist with drive-through COVID-19 testing sites on their properties. Families are counting on retailers right now and retailers are determined to be there for them. This is an unprecedented situation that demands an “all hands on deck” approach, and retailers are eager to do their part. Our organizations believe that retail business owners are in the best position to determine their ability or inability to remain open and serving their communities.
Retailers in Texas and throughout the United States are investing considerable resources and effort into following CDC guidance to routinely clean and sanitize their facilities. Stores that are open to the public are adjusting hours they are open to the public in order to re-stock and sanitize the entire store – including shopping carts, checkout lanes, shelves among other areas. Distribution centers and warehouse facilities not open to the public are also dedicating significant resources to sanitation and following social distancing for their employees.

Counties and local governments in Texas are considering further instructions to close certain businesses they deem “non-essential.” We ask that your Administration carefully consider which businesses are “essential” and “non-essential” retail and provide uniform guidance for every jurisdiction in the state to follow. It is critically important not to overlook the important role that distribution centers play not just in Texas, but in supplying out-of-state communities with essential goods.



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Coronavirus from Office of Texas Governor

Access to information directly from the Office of the Governor Greg Abbott. Find waivers issued by the governor, resources for employers, resources for job seekers, MealFinder Map for Texas Students, Updates from the Texas Education Agency and News from the Office of the Governor. 

https://gov.texas.gov/coronavirus

Federal Government Continues to Support Response to COVID-19

“The whole of government and the whole community is involved in the fight against COVID-19. We will prevail, but it will take government, the private sector and individual Americans working together.” – FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor

The federal government continues taking aggressive and proactive steps to address the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The health and safety of the American people is our top priority. FEMA is leading federal operations on behalf of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, which oversees the whole-of-government response to the pandemic. As part of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, HHS continues providing their subject matter expertise as the nation’s pre-eminent public health responders. 

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WIC/SNAP: EBT Outage Notifications

As part of continuous systems updates, the EBT-4 vendor may have planned outages.  Retailers can sign up to receive email or text message notifications about Texas EBT-4 planned outages at: 

https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/TXHHSC/subscriber/new

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