On Monday, Governor Greg Abbott announced that he will let Texas’ stay-at-home order expire as scheduled on April 30th, paving the way for businesses to begin reopening in phases. Beginning May 1, retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls will be allowed to open but will be held to 25% capacity. Efforts to keep everyone as safe as possible include policies for business owners, employees and consumers alike. Business owners may choose to open with these lowered capacity guidelines in place or stay closed until a later date.

Individuals, employers, employees, and customers are encouraged to review, print out, and follow the minimum health protocols recommended by Department of State Health Services included in the Governor’s Report to Open Texas linked here: OpenTexas-Report(1). The checklist for all employers and specific facility guidelines for retail and restaurant facilities is below. Please see complete text here.

The Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) resumed accepting new applications this week with an additional $310 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses. If you have not already, loan applications should be submitted as soon as possible. Loan applications are being accepted by many financial institutions, including small and community owned banks.

Checklist for all employers:
Train all employees on appropriate cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette.
Screen employees before coming into the business and send home any employee who has any of the following new or worsening signs or symptoms of possible COVID-19. (listed in document)
Do not allow employees with the new or worsening signs or symptoms listed above to return to work until specific conditions outlined in document are met.
Have employees wash or sanitize their hands upon entering the business.
Have employees maintain at least 6 feet separation from other individuals. If such distancing is not feasible, other measures such as face covering, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, cleanliness, and sanitation should be rigorously practiced.
If an employer provides a meal for employees, employers are recommended to have the meal individually packed for each employee.
Consistent with the actions taken by many employers across the state, consider having all employees wear cloth face coverings (over the nose and mouth). If available, employees should consider wearing non-medical grade face masks.

Health protocols for general facilities:
Regularly and frequently clean and disinfect any regularly touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, tables, chairs, and restrooms.
Disinfect any items that come into contact with customers.
Make hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap and water, or similar disinfectant readily available to employees and customers.

Health protocols for your retail facilities:
Regularly and frequently clean and disinfect any regularly touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, tables, chairs, and restrooms.
Disinfect any items that come into contact with customers.
Make hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap and water, or similar disinfectant readily available to employees and customers.
Place readily visible signage at the retailer to remind everyone of best hygiene practices.

Health protocols for restaurant facilities:
Consider having an employee manage and control access to the restaurant, including opening doors to prevent patrons from touching door handles.
Regularly and frequently clean and disinfect any regularly touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, tables, and chairs.
Regularly and frequently clean restrooms, and document the cleanings.
Disinfect any items that come into contact with customers.
Make hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap and water, or similar disinfectant readily available to employees and customers.
Place readily visible signage at the restaurant to remind everyone of best hygiene practices.
Clean and disinfect the area used for dining (table, etc.) after each group of customers depart, including the disinfecting of tables, chairs, stalls, and countertops.
Clean and sanitize restaurants daily.
Place readily visible signage at the business to remind everyone of best hygiene practices.
The choice to open is yours. These policies may not work for all businesses but it is an opportunity for “non-essential” businesses to begin conducting business with customers “face to face”. To keep all of us as safe as possible, we urge you to strictly follow these guidelines.

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