Skip to main content

Greater Houston Partnership Cautions on Reopening of Office Spaces

Published May 01, 2020 by A.J. Mistretta

HOUSTON (May 1, 2020) – The Greater Houston Partnership today released a statement on behalf of its president and CEO, Bob Harvey regarding confusion surrounding Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Texas Executive Order GA-18 and whether it calls for the return of office workers to the workplace.

“We are suggesting to Houston companies that they delay the return of office workers to the workplace for the time being. Many office-based employees have been able to carry out their tasks remotely for some time now, and as we enter this gradual process of reopening, there is no need to add ‘fuel to the fire’ when it comes to COVID-19 transmission. 

“Governor Abbott is clear in his executive order that we all should minimize contact with people outside our household unless we are providing or obtaining essential or reopened services, and specifically says employees ‘should work from home if possible.’ To me, unless you are an essential worker at one of these companies and you need to be physically present to do your job, commonsense would say you should continue teleworking.”

GA-18 Details
On Monday, April 27, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued Texas Executive Order GA-18 to begin the process of reopening the Texas economy. 

According to GA-18, “…every person in Texas shall, except where necessary to provide or obtain essential services or reopened services, minimize social gatherings and minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household.”

The order continues, “In providing or obtaining essential services or reopened services, people and businesses should follow the minimum standard health protocols recommended by DSHS, found at www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus and should implement social distancing, work from home if possible, and practice good hygiene, environmental cleanliness, and sanitation.”

Defining Essential Services and Employees
To aid businesses in their efforts to determine if they are an “essential service or reopened service,” the Texas Department of Emergency Management established a webpage to guide that determination.

“Essential services” as defined by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have been permitted to operate on an emergency basis since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Abbott’s order adds a list of “reopened” services as including restaurants, retail, movie theaters, malls, museums and libraries.

CISA’s COVID-19 guidance regarding the workers working for essential companies states, “Workers should be encouraged to work remotely when possible and focus on core business activities. In-person, non-mandatory activities should be delayed until the resumption of normal operations.”

Clarification Regarding Persons Working in an Office
In his list of reopened services designated in GA-18, Governor Abbott states, “Services provided by an individual working alone in an office.” During his announcement on Monday, the Governor stated that “sole practitioners” would be able to reopen.  There was no reference to individual offices in a larger office environment.
 

###

Greater Houston Partnership
The Greater Houston Partnership works to make Houston one of the best places to live, work and build a business. As the economic development organization for the Houston region, the Partnership champions growth across 11 counties by bringing together business and civic-minded leaders who are dedicated to the area’s long-term success. Representing 1,100 member organizations and approximately one-fifth of the region’s workforce, the Partnership is the place business leaders come together to make an impact. Learn more at Houston.org.

CONTACT:    

Vice President, Communications         
(c) 504-450-3516 | amistretta@houston.org

Maggie Martin 
Senior Manager, Communications         
mmartin@houston.org 

 

Related News

Membership

New Partnership Members in December

1/17/21
The Greater Houston Partnership welcomed 10 new member companies in the month of December. The Partnership works to connect companies with resources, information and business development opportunities to help increase business while also providing a platform to influence the direction of the region. New members joining in the month of December include: CLEAR:CLEAR is a biometric secure identity platform that stores individuals' personal information and links it to biometric data, allowing them to bypass the travel document checker at security checkpoints by using fingerprint and/or iris identification. Website  Amazon Web Services: Amazon Web Services is a subsidiary of Amazon providing on-demand cloud computing platforms and APIs to individuals, companies, and governments, on a metered pay-as-you-go basis. Website  Benchmark: Benchmark, a global hospitality company, is a trailblazer in the development, management, marketing, and owner-advisory services of resorts, hotels, conference centers, and exclusive private clubs. Website  CSI Executive Search, LLC: CSI Executive Search, LLC provides professional and executive leadership talent solutions. CSI’s Houston Recruiters Industry specializations include Aerospace / Defense, Chemical /Petrochemical, Construction / EPC, Consumer Products Environmental Service, Healthcare / Medical, IT / Technology, Manufacturing, Oil & Gas, Private Equity / V.C., Renewable Energy, Transportation / Logistics Website SPD Construction: SPD Construction is a full-service construction firm providing general contracting, design/build, CM at-risk, and CM at fee services in the southwest region of the United States. Website  Riverway Business Services, Inc.: Riverway Business Services is a leading full-service staffing company dedicated to helping client companies find the best temporary, contract, and full-time employees possible, while helping job seekers find the right jobs. Website  McFarland PLLC: McFarland PLLC represents property owners in securing just compensation when the government takes private property for public use. Website      Willis Towers Watson: Willis Towers Watson designs and delivers solutions that manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital for large Fortune 1000 employers. Website  Marriott Marquis Houston: The Marriott Marquis Houston is a AAA Four Diamond hotel in downtown Houston, Texas. Website  Moody Nolan: Moody Nolan is an African American owned and managed architecture firm. Website  Click here to see the Partnership's Membership Directory. To learn more about membership with the Greater Houston Partnership click here, or contact membership@houston.org.
Read More
Membership

New Year, New Texas Legislative Session - What it Means for Houston

1/15/21
Legislative Session Update The Texas Legislature gaveled into session this week, marking the beginning of the 87th Texas Legislative Session. In response to the ongoing pandemic, the House and Senate will not be in session next week and will reconvene January 26. Each week during the session, the Legislative Session Update will highlight key moments from the week’s events and discuss the Partnership’s Executive Priorities. Biennial Revenue Estimate Released On Monday, the stage was set for the legislative session when Comptroller Glenn Hegar released his Biennial Revenue Estimate (BRE), projecting that the state will have $112.5 billion in revenue available for general-purpose spending during the 2022-23 biennium. While many expected the state to face dramatic revenue shortfalls due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Comptroller painted a much more manageable picture. State budget writers will need to make up a shortfall of $950 million; well short of the dire $4.8 billion prediction forecasted last summer. In addition to the favorable budget estimate, the 2021 total ending balance of the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) is $8.9 billion. Absent any appropriations by the Legislature, the Comptroller's Office projects that the ESF will reach $11.55 billion at the end of the 2022-2023 biennium. The practical impact of a more favorable budget environment is that drastic cuts to items like public education may be averted. Dade Phelan Elected Speaker of the Texas House Representative Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) was sworn in as the Speaker of the Texas House. His election capped off a rapid ascent for the Speaker, who was first elected to the Texas House in 2012. In his first remarks to the chamber, Phelan urged collaboration, stating, "We must all do our part — not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Texans and Americans. Let us unite in one common purpose to do what is right for the people of Texas." Senate Approves New Floor Vote Threshold In a party-line vote, the Senate changed their rules to allow a bill to come to the floor with only 18 votes — the same number of seats held by Republican Senators — rather than the previous 19 votes. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick had urged the move publicly in the weeks leading up to the session. With the rule, Republicans may bring bills to the floor for consideration without the need to secure Democratic support. To learn more about the first week of the 87th Texas Legislative Session or the Partnership's priorities, check out Houston.org/txlege and listen to our Future of Texas - Unscripted podcast. 
Read More

Related Events

Economic Development

Business Beyond Borders: COVID-19 Supply Chain Wake-Up Calls for Reshoring Now - Part 2

This special two-part webinar dives deep on COVID-19's impact on supply chains and the wake up call for reshoring Of products now sourced offshore, 20 to 30% would be more profitably sourced domestically.…

Learn More
Learn More
Executive Partners