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Austin’s Extended ‘Stay Home’ Order Does Not Stop Dining Rooms From Reopening

Face coverings are still required and gatherings of over ten people are still banned in the city through June 15

A bartender at B.D. Riley’s
A bartender at B.D. Riley’s
Sergio Flores/AFP via Getty Images
Nadia Chaudhury is the editor of Eater Austin covering food and pop culture, as well as a photographer, writer, and frequent panel moderator and podcast guest.

Today, Austin Mayor Steve Adler extended the city’s “stay home, work safe order” through Monday, June 15. The order still calls for residents to stay home for the most part, but allows for reopened businesses under Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s statewide orders. That includes restaurant dining rooms and patios, bars, and mall food courts.

The Austin order was originally set to expire on Saturday, May 30. The Travis County order expires on June 15 as well.

Under the extended Austin order, people are required to stay home and only venture out to attend to essential services — such as restaurants for takeout food, grocery stores, doctors’ offices, or the outdoors for exercise and fresh air — as well as nonessential businesses within the governor’s orders. This means restaurants for dine-in services operating at 50 percent indoor capacities, bars at 25 percent indoor capacities, patios at full capacity, and mall food courts (which just reopened this week). All of these businesses are still supposed to follow social distancing requirements and recommendations, such as limiting parties to groups of six people or less, maintaining six feet of distance between tables and parties, and asking people and employees to wear masks.

Groups of more than ten people are still banned in the city, unless they’re all in the same household. When out and about, people over the age of six are still required to wear some sort of facial covering, i.e. masks and bandanas, are still required when they are outside and/or performing essential or allowed nonessential activities. People aren’t required to wear masks while eating and drinking. Restaurants are still asked to keep logs of customers and diners in order to help aid with contact tracing if someone does get sick.

“The city is doing everything the law allows to keep our community as safe as possible,” said Mayor Adler in a press statement, “to give the governor’s reopening of the economy the greatest chance of succeeding and being sustained and to retain for our community the ability we each have as individuals to make choices that seek to prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed.”

“The enforcement of this Order is substantially reliant on self-regulation and a community commitment to public health and safety under the novel threat of COVID-19,” noted the order. There are no civil or criminal penalties for not following the facial covering order, keeping in line with the governor’s orders. Otherwise, violations of other parts of the order that don’t conflict with state orders will result in fines of up to $1,000.