DSHS issues guidelines for non-essential businesses

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has issued guidelines for non-essential retail businesses set to open this week under Gov. Greg Abbott’s latest executive order signed last Friday.

Executive Order GA-17 mandated the re-opening of certain retail services beginning on Friday, April 24, at 12:01 a.m. Retailers “that are not ‘essential services,’ but that may be provided through pickup, delivery by mail, or delivery to the customer’s doorstep” will open “in strict compliance with the terms required by DSHS,” the document stated.

DSHS published a set of guidelines for employers and customers to adhere to as the transition takes place. It does not apply to businesses considered essential and is based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

State-wide, all employees of non-essential retail businesses must be trained on environmental cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette. Staff must be screened before coming into the business for new or worsening cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, fever, or contact with a person confirmed to have COVID-19.

“Any employee who meets any of these criteria should stay home,” DSHS stated.

Six feet of separation, masks, and hand washing and sanitizing are required for all employees entering the business. Hand-washing is also recommended after all interactions with customers.

Customers may purchase items from a retail location for pickup or delivery by mail, but may not enter the premises and should wash their hands following any interaction with employees, DSHS wrote.

The guidelines ask that payment be made by phone or over the internet “if possible” and recommended that contact should be minimized if remote payment is not available.

Employees must deliver items to the backseat or trunk of the customer’s vehicle “whenever possible” to minimize contact with the public. DSHS is instructing employees to sanitize every item that comes into contact with customers.

Retailers delivering items to a customer’s doorstep are not allowed to enter the premises and items purchased by mail should be delivered without customer contact, the guidance stated.