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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 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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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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Governor Abbot Declares Disaster, Closes Schools, Bars, Gyms Statewide, Restaurants "To-Go" Only

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) took statewide action Thursday, March 19, 2020 to mirror actions taken locally in Dallas and Tarrant counties earlier this week by declaring a disaster and ordering schools, bars, clubs and gyms to close and for restaurants to offer only "to go" service.

The statewide declaration comes after more than 160 people across the state have been infected by the virus including four who have died, three of whom were in North Texas. In Dallas alone on Thursday, 20 new cases were confirmed including one death.

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Governor Abbott Issues Executive Orders

Governor Abbott Issues Executive Orders In Accordance With Federal Guidelines To Mitigate Spread Of COVID-19 In Texas

AUSTIN - Governor Greg Abbott today announced a series of Executive Orders relating to COVID-19 preparedness and mitigation. The four orders serve to limit public gatherings and help reduce exposure for people across the state. These orders are in accordance with federal guidelines issued by the President and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and will aid in the state's efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

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US-Canada Border to Close to Non-Essential Travel

On March 18, 2020 President Trump announced via twitter that there is an agreement to close the US - Canada border to "non-essential" travel. Trade will not be affected.

Source: Twitter/@realDonaldTrump 8:37AM

"We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic. Trade will not be affected. Details to follow!"

Coronavirus Federal Update

On March 17,2020, President Trump and the White House Coronavirus Task Force issued new guidelines to help protect Americans during the global Coronavirus outbreak.

The new recommendations are simple to follow and could have a resounding impact on public health. More information can be found in the attached document and the President’s and Vice President’s remarks can be found here. 

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FDA Provides More Regulatory Relief

For Immediate Release:
March 16, 2020
Statement From:
Commissioner of Food and Drugs - Food and Drug Administration
Stephen M. Hahn M.D.

Today, as part of our ongoing and aggressive commitment to address the coronavirus outbreak, the FDA updated a policy originally issued on Feb. 29 on diagnostic testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) in order to achieve more rapid testing capacity in the U.S. We believe the unprecedented policy set forth in today’s updated guidance, which addresses laboratories and commercial manufacturers, will help address these urgent public health concerns by helping to expand the number and variety of diagnostic tests, as well as available testing capabilities in health care settings, and reference and commercial laboratories. 

This action demonstrates the FDA’s ability to pivot and adapt as the situation warrants in light of a public health emergency. We are taking steps to support diagnostic development considering the urgent need. We urge state authorities and commercial developers to take all necessary steps to ensure the availability of accurate tests. Inaccurate diagnoses during a pandemic can impair prevention efforts and delay appropriate treatment for sick patients.



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Governor Abbot Waives Certain State Trucking Regulations

Governor Greg Abbott has announced that he is waiving certain regulations related to commercial trucking in the state of Texas. The suspensions will expedite commercial vehicle delivery of more supplies in each truckload as Texas works to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) across the state.

These waivers were requested by and will be coordinated through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and are part of the actions Governor Abbott is taking under the State of Disaster he declared yesterday.

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New beer, wine and tobacco laws

This past legislative session, the Texas Legislature passed several laws which impact Texas retailers who sell beer and wine, as well as tobacco. These new laws went into effect Sunday, September 1st. Although we understand the Texas Alcoholic and Beverage Commission (TABC), as well as the Texas Comptroller’s office have communicated with our state’s retailers about these new laws and their impacts or changes, we wanted to make sure all TRA members had the most updated information. 

Below for your reference are an industry notice from TABC, which includes a detailed document reflecting all of the changes impacting TABC enacted last session, as well as this link from the Comptroller’s office regarding the new Over 21 Tobacco law. The link contains helpful information along the right hand side. However, we understand that there is still ambiguity regarding what constitutes acceptable ID’s for the military exemptions for tobacco purchases. TRA is in contact with the Comptroller’s office on this issue and we have asked them to issue clarifying guidance to retailers ASAP. Here is a link to more information about including the "Texas Retailer Tobacco Packet." We will continue to monitor this and report back as we learn more details.

Paid Sick Leave Update

Dallas:

On July 29th, several plaintiffs aligned with TRA filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Collin County, in the northwest suburbs of Dallas, seeking to block the Dallas PSL ordinance. An initial hearing on this lawsuit is expected in the coming days. Although the court could rule to temporarily invalidate the Dallas PSL ordinance (while the full case is litigated), it is unfortunate that this outcome will not be known until possibly several days or even weeks into August. TRA and our business allies are confident this will be the result, however with it now being August 1st, the Dallas PSL ordinance is technically in effect at this time, although the city has stated that fines will not be levied until April 1, 2020. As a result TRA is strongly suggesting member companies who have employees working within the City Limits of Dallas do two things as of August 1st:

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Implementation for new state laws underway

On the advocacy front, TRA remains engaged in the rulemaking and implementation processes for new state laws impacting retailers that were passed during the state legislative session, earlier this year. Additionally, we continue to fight for retailers against the ill-conceived local Paid Sick Leave ordinances which have popped up in several Texas cities. On the federal level we are continuing our push to have Congress ratify the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) before the end of the year, as well as to find opportunities to make the much-needed technical corrections to the 2017 Tax Reform law. For more timely advocacy updates, make plans to join TRA’s monthly Tax & Legislative Committee calls, which typically occur the second Thursday of each month at 2pm CT. These calls are a great way to keep up with all of the advocacy efforts TRA engages in on your behalf. Reach out to any member of the TRA team to be added to the distribution list for the Tax & Lege call announcements.

That said, it is now more important than ever to engage your elected officials (state and federal) with store tours and other opportunities to discuss the state and federal issues that matter most to you and your business. Making it local helps them see much more clearly the impact of their actions, or inactions. As we approach a very important election year in 2020, it’s important for all of us to work to educate them on the issues which matter most to retailers, as well as to know where they stand on our industry’s key issues. One way you and your company can help support and elect retail friendly legislators is by contributing to the Texas Retailers Association Political Action Committee (TRAPAC). You can get the latest information on TRA’s advocacy efforts, as well as information on how you or your company can contribute to TRAPAC, by visiting the TRA website here.