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Legislation, Quarantine/Isolation

NOTE: this is a very complex area of law, especially as it relates to stay-at-home orders issued by the states.  Please read our primer on quarantine/isolation law before reading this specific state law.





A health authority, for the prevention and control of communicable disease, can issue control measures that can include isolation or quarantine.  Tex. Health & Safety Code § 81.081; § 81.082(f)(6) & (7).  The health department or local health authority can issue a written order for the implementation of control measures where there is "...reasonable cause to believe that an individual is ill with, has been exposed to, or is the carrier of a communicable disease..."  Tex. Health & Safety Code § 81.083(b), & (c). It is a misdemeanor when a person "...knowingly refuses to perform or allow the performance of certain control measures ordered by a health authority..."  Tex. Health & Safety Code § 81.087(a).


In addition to being potentially prosecuted for a misdemeanor, a person “infected with or reasonably suspected of being infected with a communicable disease,” who does not comply with the health authority's written orders or who indicates, during a public health disaster, that they will not comply with control measures, is subject to court orders for management as permitted in Sections 81.151-81.300; see also, Tex. Health & Safety Code § 81.083(k)-(l) (application of section to group of individuals).  An application for an order of management can be requested for a single individual, or a single application can be requested for a group of five or more individuals.  Tex. Health & Safety Code § 81.151(e).  "The judge shall appoint an attorney to represent a person not later than the 24th hour after the time an application for a court order for the management of a person with a communicable disease is filed if the person does not have an attorney."  Tex. Health & Safety Code § 81.153(a).  For a group, "a judge shall appoint an attorney to represent a group identified in a group application under Section 81.151(e) and shall appoint an attorney for each person who is listed in the application if requested by a person in the group who does not have an attorney."  Tex. Health & Safety Code § 81.1531(a).


Quarantine of an entire area due to an outbreak of communicable disease is permitted pursuant to Tex. Health & Safety Code § 81.085; see also, Tex. Health & Safety Code § 508.003 (authorizing area quarantine due to introduction of an environmental or toxic agent into the environment, subject to  procedures set forth in § 81.085).  Although a court order of management can be filed for a group of five or more individuals, the process set out above does not appear to apply to an "area" quarantine.  A person who "...knowingly fails or refuses to obey a rule, order, or instruction of the department or an order or instruction of a health authority issued under a department rule and published during an area quarantine under this section" commits a felony in the third degree. Tex. Health & Safety Code § 81.085(h). 

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes