GOVERNOR ISSUES EXECUTIVE ORDER for ESSENTIAL SERVICES

Mayor Says Order "Real Clear" In Allowing Residential Construction to Continue in Austin and "Might Very Well Allow" Commercial Construction 
 
H ere is the latest update for construction activity in Austin/Travis County as of Wednesday afternoon, April 1.
 
Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday issued  Executive Order GA-14 that allows "essential services" to continue in Texas beginning at 12:01am on Thursday, April 2. Further, the Order states it "shall supersede any conflicting order issued by local officials in response to the COVD-19 disaster, but only to the extent that such a local order restricts essential services."  The order then states essential services "shall consist of everything listed by the  U.S. Department of Homeland Security in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 2.0."
 
 With regard to construction, that Homeland Security guidance document:   
  • Clearly deems residential construction as essential.
  • Deems as essential for commercial facilities "workers who support the supply chain of building materials from production through application/installation, including cabinetry, fixtures, doors, cement, hardware, plumbing, electrical, heating/cooling, refrigeration, appliances, paint/coatings, and employees who provide services that enable repair materials and equipment for essential functions."
  • Further deems as necessary "workers distributing, servicing, repairing, installing residential and commercial HVAC systems, boilers, furnaces and other heating, cooling, refrigeration, and ventilation equipment."
  • Refers to their essential list as an advisory list, not a directive or standard or even an exclusive list.
That being the case, we can reasonably assume that starting Thursday, April 2, residential construction - to include multi-family and condo - may continue in Austin and Travis county.  Further, we can reasonably assume that all commercial construction should be able to continue here as well.  However, questions still remain as to the types of projects permitted to proceed by virtue of the Executive Order.  

We have not yet seen any official statement/guidance from City/County officials as to how they intend to interpret the Governor's Executive Order relative to all construction in Austin and Travis County.  In the meantime, note that in an interview today with KVUE TV , Mayor Adler acknowledged that the Governor's Order trumps both of those by the City and County, clearly allows residential construction, and "may very well" allow commercial construction here, too.
 
We will, of course, keep you informed as this situation evolves.

A number of local construction law firms have weighed in - and in much greater detail - on this issue and many more related topics, so be sure to check these out as well:

 
As always, please reach out to me with any questions you may have at 512.442.7887 or philt@agcaustin.org.  


Sincerely,

Phil Thoden
President and CEO
Austin AGC