Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt extended the “stay home work safe” order through Friday, May 8, in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The original order for Austin and Travis County, which was designed to slow the spread of the virus, was issued on Tuesday, March 24 and was set to expire tonight, Monday, April 13, at midnight.
The mandate still keeps all nonessential businesses closed and bans social gatherings. This also means that Austin dining rooms will remain closed to dine-in service through Friday, May 8 now, though restaurants can still stay open for takeout and delivery service. (A previous order dictated that dining rooms and bars remain closed through Friday, May 1.)
This new order also requires that everyone must wear a fabric face mask covering their mouth and nose while outside performing essential activities, including acquiring food and medical supplies, and getting fresh air, while also continuing social distancing. The order applies to both the public and essential workers, which would include restaurant employees. It reads:
Everyone over the age of ten must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when in a public building, using public transportation or ride shares, pumping gas and while outside when six feet of physical distancing cannot be consistently maintained. A face covering is not required when eating, riding in a personal vehicle, alone in a separate single space, or in the presence of other members of your residence. Additionally, a face covering is not required when wearing one poses a greater mental or physical health, safety or security risk such as anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.
The order recommends that people use scarves, bandanas, or non-medical-grade face masks. Businesses, which would include restaurants, will have to display signage detailing the new face covering requirements.
Violations of the new order is considered a criminal offense, but the order also noted that it is “reliant on self-regulation and a community commitment to public health.” Violators of the original order were subjected to fines of $1,000 or jail up to 180 days.
During this time, grocery stores, liquor stores, farmers markets, and farms can still remain open as they’re considered essential, but all must enforce social distancing protocols, ensuring people maintain a distance of six feet or more.
As of now, there are 774 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Travis County with nine reported deaths
On Sunday, April 12, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott extended the state’s original disaster proclamation (originally issued on Friday, March 13). Earlier this month, the governor also extended the executive order that closed Texas restaurant dining rooms and bars for dine-in service through Thursday, April 30.