Coronavirus: What are the Legal Issues for an Involuntary Quarantine?

The SXSW conference canceled, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo ended early and sporting events are suspended or disallowing fans in the stands. The coronavirus outbreak has many state and health experts making voluntary decisions to prevent the spread of the disease. But what if a person or place is put under a government-ordered involuntary quarantine? What are the legal issues that might arise from those decisions?  

Quarantine laws can vary state-by-state. Lynn Pinker Hurst & Schwegmann partner David Coale says Texas quarantine statutes provide broad powers to authorities but also a specific process that must be followed.  

“If the government wants to put someone in an involuntary quarantine, there are a surprising number of hoops to jump through in court, if it comes to that. The Legislature has set up a detailed, specific process.”  

“According to the statute, the government also can put real property, an area, or a ‘conveyance’ like a car or plane in a quarantine. But the law is less detailed there about exactly how to go about it – or, defend against it.”  

For more information or to interview David, please contact Sophia Reza at 800-559-4534 or