Monday, May 18th, Governor Abbott announced Phase 2 of his plan to open Texas. This announcement included new guidelines for office-based employers, which takes immediate effect. The most notable changes are:
- Employers can open the office to the greater of 10 people or 25% of the total office workforce (previously the greater of 5 people or 25%).
- The use of standard-size elevators is limited to 4 people at a time with each standing in their own corner to maximize space between riders. Individuals covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act may ride the elevator alone or with only their caregiver.
- Employers should ensure that stairs are available for use by individuals not wanting to ride the elevator.
- Employers with 10 or more employees or contractors present at one time should consider identifying an individual whose responsibility it is to ensure that the health protocols adopted by the office are being successfully implemented and followed.
All other health protocols included in the earlier May 5th order are still applicable. These include screening employees for symptoms upon arrival or having them self-screen before reporting to the office, sending sick employees home, making hand sanitizer or soap and water available for use, regularly sanitizing high-traffic surfaces and posting signage to alert employees and contractors of recommended hygiene practices. Employees and contractors should continue to practice social distancing and maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others.
Finally, employers should consider adopting a formal policy discussing health protocols that delineates which protocols will be the employer’s responsibility which protocols will be the employee’s responsibility. Once the policy has been adopted, someone in the office should be tasked with the role of ensuring that the protocols are carried out. Due to the ever-changing nature of COVID-19 regulations, this person should also be tasked with regularly checking for updates to applicable governmental orders and CDC guidance to determine whether the policy needs updating.