At a news conference at the Texas Capitol Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott discussed the continued response in Texas to the COVID-19 pandemic and issued an executive order implementing essential services and activities protocols for the entire state of Texas.
While having the freedom to got to the bank, grocery store or gas station, Abbott said Texans are expected to limit interactions.
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.
All Texas schools will be closed through May 4. The date may be extended.
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.
Tuesday'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 30.
Abbott said there are consequences if anyone violates the executive orders that are in place.
Those consequences include a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 180 days in jail.
The governor added that Dr. John Hellerstedt, the commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services issued his own executive order that states that Texans who violate the rules could also face mandatory quarantine.
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.