Austin-Travis County Orders Bolstered by Governor’s New Enforcement Guideline
Fri, 07/03/2020 – 11:16
Austin, Texas – Yesterday, Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-29, which states that local law enforcement agencies and other local officials, as appropriate, can and should enforce the wearing of face coverings in public. Local leaders are heeding the Governor’s orders and plan to implement enforcement across the county.
“I am grateful that as the science supporting the effectiveness of facial coverings has improved, the Governor has been persistent in his public messaging regarding the importance of masking in our fight against COVID-19. Today, he truly demonstrated his commitment to both public health and the health of the economy through GA-29. This is not a partisan issue, it is a human issue, and Texas is demonstrating we can be stronger together,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority.
Under the new City Order, recommendations have been identified to help residents maintain a sense of normalcy while protecting each other from further spread of COVID-19. The recommendations are as follows:
- All persons MUST wear some form of covering that fits snugly over their nose and mouth, with limited exceptions
- All individuals and business establishments are ORDERED to practice the social distancing, hygiene, and face covering behaviors
- Social gatherings of any size shall be avoided or minimized
- Vulnerable individuals (those over 65, who are immunocompromised, or who have underlying health conditions) shall particularly avoid groups of more than two beyond the members of their single household or residence
- Nursing homes, retirement and long-term care facilities must prohibit non-critical assistance visitors or providers from accessing their facilities
- All persons MUST practice social distancing except when in the presence of only members of one’s own household or residence, or when otherwise exempted by this Order
- All business’s or venue’s premises or facilities MUST require and enforce this health and safety policy or plan as to all who enter into the premises or facility, including employees
- All business establishments reopened by the Governor’s Orders are strongly encouraged to operate at a capacity less than otherwise permitted to make it more feasible for customers and staff to maintain proper social distancing
- To assist in both the statewide and local contact tracing programs, all retail, restaurants and bars allowing indoor service and all reopened services are encouraged to maintain an activity log of, as reasonably possible, with the contact information for all inside or sit-down customers and employees including the dates, times and locations of where they were present
- If someone in a household has tested positive for COVID-19 or is awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test, the entire household is ORDERED to isolate and not travel outside of the City of Austin except to seek medical attention or until cleared by Austin Public Health
- A violation of this Order may be punishable through criminal enforcement, except as limited by state order. A warning will be issued to an individual before issuing a citation
- Businesses are still required to ensure that all patrons and employees wear a face covering while inside their business unless exempted by the order
- People taking part in permitted activities should not accept the exception offered in Executive Order GA-28 and abide by the 10-person limitation
“This new local order — takes full advantage of new tools in the Governor’s latest orders – making masks mandatory and enforceable while also prohibiting groups over ten,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. “It is now on each of us to do our part – for our communities and for our loved ones – especially this holiday weekend.”
Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe said he “appreciates Governor Abbott for issuing Executive Order GA-29 mandating masks in Texas effective July 3rd.” He added: “Travis County will actively enforce this order. Additionally, under the Governor’s Amended Executive Order GA-28, the Travis County Judge has the authority to approve gatherings in excess of 10 people. At this time, Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe has no intention of putting in place a permitting process for such gatherings, at least through the July 4th holiday weekend. Therefore, per the Governor’s order today, all such gatherings are prohibited in unincorporated areas of Travis County.”
In addition to enforcing mandatory face coverings, Austin-Travis County encourages residents to continue to abide by the following measures outlined in previous orders:
- Gatherings of 10 or more people are prohibited.
- Maintain six feet distance from people outside of your household whenever possible.
- Do not leave your home except to conduct essential activities.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Maintain proper personal hygiene by washing hands frequently.
For more information and updates, visit AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.