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Governor Greg Abbott

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Governor Abbott Expands Business Openings

April 27, 2020

AUSTIN - Governor Greg Abbott today held a press conference where announced that he will be issuing an Executive Order to expand openings of certain businesses and activities. The Governor also announced new guidance from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) on graduation ceremonies and the creation of Surge Response Teams to combat any COVID-19 flare ups in Texas. "Texas is in a position to continue opening parts of our economy because of the efforts and determination of the people of Texas," said Governor Abbott. "Over the past month, Texans have worked together to contain the spread of COVID-19 by following social distancing practices and staying at home whenever possible. As we move forward, I urge all Texans to continue following these social distancing guidelines and the health standards we have provided. With every Texan doing their part, we will contain COVID-19, we will unleash our entrepreneurs, and we will make it through this challenge together."The Governor was joined for the press conference by Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) Chief Nim Kidd, Texas Health and Human Services (HHSC) Acting Executive Commissioner Phil Wilson, TEA Commissioner Mike Morath, and Adjutant General of Texas Maj. Gen. Tracey Norris.Per the Governor’s announcement, wedding venues and services required to conduct weddings may immediately open. Weddings held indoors other than at a church, congregation, or house of worship must limit occupancy to 25%. Wedding reception services may also resume, but facilities must limit their occupancy to 25% of the total listed occupancy. These occupancy limits do not apply to the outdoor areas of a wedding reception or to outdoor wedding receptions.Beginning May 8, cosmetology salons, hair salons, barber shops, nail salons and shops, and other establishments where licensed cosmetologists or barbers practice their trade, may open, but all such salons, shops, and establishments must ensure at least six feet of social distancing between operating work stations. Tanning salons may also reopen under the same limitation. Also starting May 8, swimming pools may open subject to certain limitations, including on their occupancy or operating levels.Beginning May 18, office buildings may open with the greater of five or less individuals or 25% of the total office workforce. These individuals must maintain appropriate social distancing. Gyms, exercise facilities, and exercise classes may also open on May 18, but must operate at 25% occupancy. Locker rooms and shower facilities will remain closed, but restrooms may open. Non-essential manufacturing services may also open on May 18 but facilities must limit their occupancy to 25%.These newly opened services are subject to recommended minimum standard health protocols outlined by DSHS. These protocols will be available on the Open Texas webpage. During the press conference, Chief Kidd and Commissioner Wilson provided details on the newly formed Surge Response Teams. These teams are led by TDEM and HHSC and include representatives from the the Texas Military Department, DSHS, the Texas Emergency Medical Task Force, and BCFS Health and Human Services. Surge Response Teams will serve nursing homes, prisons, packing pants, and other facilities that experience flare ups of COVID-19 by providing personal protective equipment, testing supplies, onsite staffing, and assessment assistance. These teams will also work with local officials to establish health and social distancing standards to contain these flare ups. Several Surge Response Teams have already been deployed to locations across the state. Chief Kidd and Commissioner Wilson's presentation is available here. TEA Commissioner Morath also provided new guidance on class of 2020 graduation ceremonies for Texas school districts. The TEA is providing four different pathways for schools to celebrate their graduating seniors, and each district is at liberty to determine if any of these options best serve the needs and desires of their community:

  • Completely virtual ceremonies that take place entirely online, with the use of videoconference or other technologies.
  • Hybrid ceremonies, which consist of a compilation of videos of students being recognized in person as they celebrate graduation in small groups.
  • Vehicle ceremonies, in which students and their families wait in their cars while other graduates are recognized one at time with their families alongside them.
  • Outdoor in-person ceremonies, which are currently permitted for counties as follows: 
    • Between May 15 and May 31, an outdoor ceremony may take place in a rural county that has an attestation as described in the Governor’s Report to Open Texas that remains in effect 7 days prior to the ceremony. 
    • An outdoor ceremony may take place in any Texas county on or after June 1. 
    • Full details of the TEA's graduation ceremony guidance can be found on the TEA website

Governor Provides Update On Jobs In Texas, Resources for Seeking Employment

April 21, 2020

AUSTIN - Governor Greg Abbott today provided an update on job openings in the Lone Star State and outlined resources for Texans seeking employment due to the economic effects of COVID-19. The Governor also announced that nearly 500,000 job openings are currently listed on WorkInTexas.com, a powerful online job matching and workforce solution system developed by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). This system provides fast access to a complete set of employment tools in one website where job seekers can browse job postings, find education and training, and complete resumes and state applications. 

The Governor presented different industries and certain employers that are hiring in each region of Texas and announced that many companies — including H-E-B, Amazon, and Randalls — are hiring statewide. Governor Abbott also discussed additional resources available through the 28 local workforce development boards located throughout the state of Texas. The local workforce solutions offices are also available to employers of all sizes who can receive assistance in recruiting, identifying, and hiring qualified individuals. These services are available to both employers and job seekers at no cost.

Job seekers can visit Texas Economic Development and Tourism's Texas Jobs page for links to all 28 local workforce development boards. The webpage also contains additional COVID-19 resources for employers and job seekers alike.

"As we continue to slow the spread of COVID-19, we are also working to alleviate the severe economic devastation that has impacted so many Texans," said Governor Abbott. "People are ready to get to work and earn a paycheck again, and the State of Texas is committed to connecting Texans with the many job opportunities that exist throughout the state. I thank the Texas Workforce Commission, our local workforce organizations, and businesses across the state who are working tirelessly to connect Texans with job openings during these challenging times."

View the Governor's presentation.

$38 Million In Federal COVID-19 Emergency Funding For Local Governments Available

April 15, 2020

AUSTIN - Governor Greg Abbott today announced that his Public Safety Office (PSO) will provide $38 million in federal funds to local units of government in Texas. These funds come from the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program authorized by the federal Emergency Appropriations for Coronavirus Health Response and Agency Operations Act.

Jurisdictions may use this funding to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus. Allowable projects and purchases include, but are not limited to, overtime, equipment, supplies, training, travel expenses, and addressing the medical needs of inmates in local and tribal jails and detention centers.

"These funds will help our local governments respond to COVID-19 and provide the resources that our communities need," said Governor Abbott. "I am grateful to our federal partners for making this crucial financial support available to the state of Texas."

Examples of allowable costs include:

Interested jurisdictions may access the Public Safety Office’s eGrants grant management website at https://eGrants.gov.texas.gov to register and apply for funding.

Gov. Abbott issue Executive Order, Implements Statewide Essential Services And Activities Protocols

March 31, 2020 

AUSTIN - 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 orderenforcing 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. 

Today’s Executive Order follows the decision by President Trump and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to enhance social distancing guidelines and extend the deadline for these guidelines to April 30th.

Governor Abbott was joined for the announcement by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) Chief Nim Kidd, and Texas Education Agency (TEA) Commissioner Mike Morath.

“Social distancing is our best tool in the fight against COVID-19, and the actions we have taken thus far have proven to be effective in limiting the spread of this virus,” said Governor Abbott. “Now it is time to redouble our efforts to reduce further exposure as much as possible and flatten the curve. As with all the actions the state is taking, the Essential Services and Activities Protocols is informed by the expertise and guidance of the CDC as well as state and local health officials. I urge my fellow Texans to heed these heightened social distancing directives to protect their health and the health of those around them. By following these guidelines, we will limit the spread of COVID-19 and overcome this challenge together.”

The Executive Order renews and expands the Governor's previous directive to minimize social gatherings and minimize contact with people who are not in the same household. It also renews the Governor's directive to avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts, and visiting gyms or massage establishments, and it expands the order to include tattoo studios, piercing studios, and cosmetology salons. 

In accordance with federal guidelines, people are still prohibited from visiting nursing home, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance. Additionally, schools will remain temporarily closed to in-person classroom attendance through May 4, 2020.

This Executive Order does not prohibit people from accessing essential services or engaging in essential daily activities, such as going to the grocery store or gas station, providing or obtaining other essential services, hunting or fishing, or engaging in physical activity like jogging or bicycling, so long as the necessary precautions are maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and to minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household. The order also includes exemption for religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship. All critical infrastructure will remain operational, and government entities and businesses will continue providing essential services.

TDEM will maintain an online list of essential services specified in the Governor's Executive Order at www.tdem.texas.gov/essentialservices/. Other essential services may be added to this list with the approval of TDEM.

These orders will be effective on a statewide basis starting at 12:01 AM on April 2, 2020 and will end on April 30, 2020, subject to extension thereafter based on the status of COVID-19 in Texas and the recommendations of the CDC.

View the Governor's Executive Order.