Are POAs “commercial entities providing goods and services to the public”? In a number of counties, the answer is yes.
Beginning on June 17, 2020, several counties and cities adopted new emergency orders requiring “commercial entities providing goods or services to the public” to adopt a Health and Safety Plan. While the exact language varies from location to location, all require the Health and Safety Plan to require, at a minimum, that all employees or visitors to the entity’s business premises or facilities wear face coverings when in an area or performing an activity which will necessarily involve close contact or proximity to others. The Health and Safety Plan may also include the implementation of other mitigating measures designed to control and reduce the transmission of COVID-19.
We have received confirmation from multiple municipalities that this requirement applies to POAs, and that the mask requirement will apply in common areas where an exception to the requirement does not apply (please note that exceptions vary from order to order). None of the counties or cities that we have been able to speak with have told us that the requirement does not apply to POAs.
Each order provides a deadline by which commercial entities must have the Health and Safety Plan in place. Below is a list of counties and cities that have adopted such orders, along with the deadline for compliance.
- Bexar County- June 22
- City of Austin- June 23
- Dallas County- June 24
- Harris County- June 24
- City of Galveston- June 27
- City of Sugar Land- June 30
- Fort Bend County- June 30
Failure to adopt and implement the required Health and Safety Policy may result in a criminal fine ranging from $500 to $1,000 per violation.
We urge all POAs in the affected counties and cities to reach out to their attorney about adopting a compliant Health and Safety Plan as soon as possible.