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Andrews Myers
We Mean Business in Texas
COVID-19 Update

Austin Extends "Stay Home, Mask and Otherwise Be Safe" Orders through December 15, 2020

by Brittany Long   On Friday, August 14th, the City of Austin extended its “Stay Home, Mask, and Otherwise Be Safe” order and Travis County extended its corresponding mask order and disaster declaration to December 15, 2020. These orders were both set to expire on August 15, 2020. A copy of the City Order can be found here. A copy of the Travis County order can be found here.
 
These orders require wearing face coverings in public, social-distancing 6 feet from others, limiting gatherings to 10 or less people, and practicing excellent hygiene. The orders also mandate that businesses implement a health and safety policy to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The minimum requirements for these policies include that employees, customers, and visitors wear face coverings over their nose and mouth while in any part of the business’s premises. Businesses that fail to implement a plan in compliance with the Order could be fined up to $1,000 per day until they come into compliance. Both orders include exhibits with Recommendations and Requirements by the Austin/Travis County Health Authority for Individuals, Families and Businesses. They also contain Sample Health and Safety Policy and Signage. Businesses are encouraged to follow the sample policy provided in the orders to avoid penalties for non-compliance.
 
Based on current information, people can call 3-1-1 to report alleged violations, and Austin Code will reach out to the business about the complaint. Further, businesses have a duty to ask individuals to leave their premises if they are unwilling to abide by the order. If the non-compliant individual refuses to leave, businesses can call 3-1-1, and Austin police are supposed to respond.
 
The orders also encourage those over age 65 to avoid group gatherings altogether unless essential, and encourage businesses to operate at a minimal indoor capacity and to maximize social distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 
Construction
Houston Public Works Launches New Public Information Request Portal
by Kenton Andrews    Andrews Myers often advises and assist clients with requesting and securing government records available under the Texas Public Information Act, and also on how to protect clients’ proprietary and confidential information submitted to government bodies from disclosure. The City of Houston announced that it has purchased new software for submitting and processing public records requests. The City’s Public Works Department will use the new GovQA system.  There are currently over 800 cities, counties and state agencies that use GovQA, including Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and El Paso. 
 
According to a release from the Public Works Communications Team, the new system will allow requestors to track the progress of their information requests, as well as receive electronic updates for cost estimates and requests for clarifications. 
 
The City has also provided a how-to video explaining how to set up an account and use the new system.  Any member of the public can file public information requests, and the link for this new system, found here,  will be available on Monday, August 24th. 
Litigation & Arbitration
Texas Supreme Court Extends Possible Start Date for Jury Trials
by Bob Plessala   On June 29th, the 18th emergency order from the Supreme Court prohibited the commencement of any jury trials until September 1st, with limited exceptions. On August 6th, the Supreme Court’s 22nd emergency order extended that prohibition until October 1st.  Limited jury trials are still permitted, but the reality is that in-person jury trials are a rarity and there have been very few remote jury trials.
 
The Court’s order also extended the authority previously given to the lower courts to modify any deadlines or procedures set forth in rules, statutes or orders through September 30th.  The order likewise extended the guidelines for hearings, depositions and other proceedings to allow for remote participation and testimony by teleconference and video conferencing.

At this point it is not unreasonable to expect that this latest order may be further extended next month.
About Andrews Myers
Celebrating 30 Years in 2020
Founded in 1990, with offices in Houston and Austin, Andrews Myers, Attorneys at Law, is a corporate law firm and recognized market leader in Texas construction law.  The firm focuses on the concentrated disciplines of commercial litigation, construction, commercial real estate, corporate and business transactions, with additional emphasis on related issues including bankruptcy and insolvency, energy, employment and capital formation. A seasoned team of attorneys provides timely and cost-effective solutions to the most complex problems facing entrepreneurs and middle-market industry leaders throughout the state and the nation. For more information please visit www.andrewsmyers.com.
COVID-19 Updates
Andrews Myers attorneys have been tracking and updating the many changes that could effect you and your business throughout the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. To see all of the articles and information you may have missed, please visit our dedicated COVID-19 page on the AndrewsMyers.com website. To subscribe to our newsletter, click here
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