Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Texas, US, to lift restrictions on multiple businesses starting May 1. Restrictions for travelers from certain areas remain.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Houston, Texas
  • Austin, Texas
  • Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • El Paso, Texas
  • Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas
  • Amarillo, Texas
  • Brownsville, Texas
  • Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Harlingen, Texas
  • Laredo, Texas
  • Longview, Texas
  • Lubbock, Texas
  • McAllen, Texas
  • Midland-Odessa, Texas
  • San Angelo, Texas
  • Del Rio, Texas
  • Abilene, Texas
  • Galveston-Texas City, Texas
  • Killeen, Texas
  • Wichita Falls, Texas
  • Waco, Texas
  • Tyler, Texas
  • College Station, Texas

This alert began 29 Apr 2020 11:58 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Texas (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions, heightened security

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order to lift restrictions on multiple businesses, which may restart operations from May 1, as part of the state's response to coronavirus disease (COVID-19). All retail stores, malls, restaurants, movie theaters, museums, libraries, and places of worship will be allowed to open, with a maximum capacity of 25 percent. Food courts and interactive areas in museums and libraries must remain closed. All employers must train personnel for safety measures, screen their health, and send home those with possible COVID-19 symptoms, consider the use of protective masks, enhance sanitation, and ensure social distancing. Outdoor sports will be allowed with a maximum of four participants. Bars, public swimming pools, fitness centers, other entertainment venues, and personal care businesses must remained closed. Other nonessential businesses can continue operating only with employees working from home. Authorities will evaluate the first phase of the businesses reopening, and may loosen or increase restrictions starting May 18.

A stay at home order will expire April 30, but through at least May 15 authorities have encouraged residents to minimize gatherings and contact with people from outside of their household, and have urged residents 65 years or older to remain at home, except to perform essential tasks. Essential businesses, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, fuel stations, healthcare facilities, banks, and security, media, transport, and critical manufacturing companies, will remain open. All residents are encouraged to wear protective masks when in public.

Schools will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year. Officials in Texas have eliminated the mandatory 14-day quarantine for people traveling from Louisiana, but have maintained such requirement from anyone entering Texas from the states of California, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and the cities of Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, and Miami. The order does not apply to persons in transit to locations outside of Texas, nor to those involved in military, emergency, health, or critical infrastructure operations.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will almost certainly deploy additional security personnel to assist in enforcing any such measures that may be implemented. Officials could amend orders on short notice, depending on disease activity.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures are likely to accelerate in the coming weeks; however, restrictions may be reimposed or extended further should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Back to the COVID-19 Risk Intelligence & Resource Center