FAQ FOR BUSINESSES

DURING COVID-19

Confused with everything surrounding your business and COVID-19? We've compiled a list of frequently asked questions for the business community. Have a question that's not listed? Ask away! We're here for you. 

Frequently asked questions

Limited Shelter in Place

What’s the main difference between the last order and the limited stay at home order?


We are closing certain businesses, and we are limiting retail building occupancies to ensure social distancing requirements are met.




When does the order take effect and for how long does it stay in effect?


The order is effective Noon on April 1, 2020 and is in effect until 11:59 PM on April 14, 2020.




Is this mandatory or just guidance?


This is mandatory, and violators will be fined up to $1,000.




What’s closed?


  1. Hair salons, hair stylists, barber shops, nail salons, tattoo parlors, piercing businesses, and all similar personal grooming related businesses that require close personal contact; and
  2. Food truck gatherings of two or more food trucks; and
  3. Game rooms, bowling alleys, movie theaters, arcades, miniature golf courses, gyms, fitness centers, or other similar entertainment venues; and
  4. Sexually Oriented Businesses; and
  5. Smoking rooms in tobacco stores (it is the intent to limit the closure only to the smoking rooms and not the sale of tobacco products).




Am I correct that except for the few businesses that are mentioned specifically as being ordered to close, all others can stay open as long as they comply completely with the Social Distancing and other related requirements?


Yes.




Is there an appeal process for businesses ordered to close?


No.




Where does the limited order apply?


The order applies to the city limits of the City of Abilene only. If you pay property taxes to the City of Abilene, this order applies to you.




Are independent contractors considered employees under this order?


Any person working in a building is considered an employee for the purposes of this order.




Will this affect mail delivery or banking operations?


No.




You’ve said APD is not able enforce the current limited order due to workload. Will they be able enforce this more expansive one?


APD will aggressively enforce this order.




I don’t like the order, but I certainly understand it. What can I do to make the order last as short as possible?


Stay at home unless you need to for essential activities, which are defined as:

“Essential Activities means any action or effort that is necessary for gainful employment or for the financial welfare of their family. It also means any activity necessary for obtaining medical care, food, shelter or clothing that may be necessary for the safety and well-being of themselves or their family. It also means any action necessary for the preservation of a person’s mental or spiritual health, including attending any religious gathering.”




The order mentions the City can extend payments, deadlines, etc. Are there any that for sure are going to happen?


Not at this time.




Are there going to be any financial assistance programs the city will have to help struggling businesses?


The Chamber of Commerce can best assist your business to access federal stimulus opportunities for your small business. The City will continue to pursue and explore all opportunities to assist small businesses with our community partners.




My business is down already, and I’ve had to lay off most employees. Isn’t my unemployment insurance rate going to soar?


This is best addressed by the Texas Workforce Commission.




Are the big box stores going to be told the total number of people allowed in their stores?


Yes.

  1. Retail stores are ORDERED to reduce their maximum building occupancy by 50%; and
  2. Retail stores are ORDERED to further reduce their total building occupancy, as may be required, by the number necessary to maintain good social distancing requirements, as further defined in Section 14 of this order, should the 50% building occupancy reduction prove ineffective in maintaining social distancing requirements; and
  3. Retail stores are ORDERED to control the ingress and egress of their buildings so that they maintain good social distancing requirements, as further defined in Section 14 of this order, inside their buildings.




I work for a company where we deliver our service inside homes. Are we able to continue doing that?


Provided you are not operating a business that has been ordered to close, yes.




Will grocery stores be open?


Yes. Groceries stores will always be essential.




What about restaurants?


Restaurants may continue to operate as they have been operating since the Governor’s first Executive Order.




Will public transportation or ridesharing be available?


Yes.




Does the stay at home order mean I can’t take my kids to the park?


No. You may take your kids to the park if required for the preservation of mental or spiritual health. It is highly likely the City Manager will close playgrounds and basketball courts in the very near future.




Can I go out to do laundry?


Yes.




Should I stock up on food, necessities like toilet paper and on medicines?


No. This is not a natural disaster and there is no need to panic buy. Buying groceries and food is an essential activity.




Can I apply for unemployment?


This is a question best answered by the Texas Workforce Commission.




Can a golf course remain open?


Yes. Golfers must maintain social distancing, and if they fail to do so, the City will close all golf courses.




Can a company that is in construction or lawn maintenance continue working?


Yes.




If this order doesn’t achieve the flattening of the curve, what’s the next step?


We’re hopeful that responsible citizens can help make this order successful.




Will day care facilities be open?


Yes.




Isn’t this close to martial law?


No. It is far, far, far from martial law. It is a reasonable and responsible response to a public health emergency.




What are the requirements for a hotel?


Hotels should operate in a clean and responsible manner, and follow good social distancing requirements, that are defined as: “maintaining at least six-foot social distancing from other individuals, washing hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands), regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces, and not shaking hands.”




What is an essential employee?


This order defines all employees and all businesses as essential except for those businesses ordered to close.




What if businesses want to pivot from in-store services and make home deliveries, is this permissible?


Yes, and encouraged. Deliveries should be made in a manner that maintains social distancing. For example, leave the delivery on the porch.




Can a fitness center still film online training and live stream exercise with one trainer and one camera?


Yes.




Would our employees need any kind of document signed by the company to commute from home to work and vice versa?


No.




Is City Link affected by the order?


No.




Is it OK to go fishing or boating at Kirby Lake or Fort Phantom? What about my hunting lease in Jones County?


Fishing, yes, for now. Jones County, yes.




Is Pet Grooming allowed?


Yes.




Governor Abbott has a new executive order dealing with “essential services”? What are those services?


The list was developed by a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The list may be found here: http://tdem.texas.gov/essentialservices/ . You will see that it has links for each category of service that expand into great detail.




How has the Coronavirus affected the TWC rules and regulations referring to what income you can make over the weekly benefit amount before TWC reduces your benefit payment? The regular amount is only 25% over the weekly benefit amount before TWC reduces your weekly benefit to equal the maximum of 125% received. Has the Coronavirus waived or changed that amount?


No changes have been made to this provision at this time. We will continue to monitor new legislation from Congress. As changes impact UI, we will continue to provide updates.





© 2020 by the Abilene Chamber of Commerce

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