Stay Home – Work Safe Order Information

Stay Home – Work Safe Order Information
Tue, 03/24/2020 – 16:34

Release Date
Tue, 03/24/2020 – 12:00

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The City of Austin and Travis County have issued a Public Health Order requiring individuals to remain in place at home, with exceptions for essential work and activities. When conducting an allowed activity, people must maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing.

Read the Public Health Order

What You Need to Know

It’s important to know that this is NOT a mandatory lockdown. The Public Health Order asks that all Austin/Travis County residents avoid nonessential outings and stay inside as much as possible to contain the spread of COVID-19.

It’s still fine to leave your home to buy groceries, go for a run, walk the dog, pick up medicine, visit a doctor or travel to and from work (if designated as an essential business).

Additional documentation, beyond regular ID requirements for transportation, is NOT necessary for travel to essential activities or businesses.

Essential Activities

The Order prohibits nonessential activities any social gatherings, restaurant dining, and visiting bars, entertainment venues, or gyms and fitness centers. The Order allows for essential activities including going to the grocery store, pharmacy, restaurants for take-out, receiving medical care, or taking your pet for a walk.

Examples of essential activities include:

Health and safety: obtaining healthcare, emergency services, medical supplies, or medications

Necessary supplies and services: obtaining groceries and food, pet food, and supplies necessary for staying at home

Outdoor activity and exercise: engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking, biking or running provided that individuals maintain at least six feet of social distancing

Essential work and services: performing work at an essential business, which includes all services needed to ensure the continuing operation of critical infrastructure to maintain the health, safety and welfare of the public

Care for others: caring for a family member, the elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons in another household

Essential (and some Non-Essential) Businesses

Under the Order, all business must cease operations and remain in place except essential businesses. Essential businesses must comply with social distancing requirements. Essential businesses include:

Grocery stores, farmers’ markets, food banks, convenience stores Hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, veterinary offices and other healthcare services

Non-essential businesses may continue operations if work is performed at their own residences (i.e., working from home).

  • Childcare facilities providing services that enable essential employees to continue performing their essential work duties
  • Educational institutions, for the purposes of facilitating distance learning
  • Gas stations and auto repair facilities
  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Critical infrastructure including energy, water, solid waste collection and other governmental services
  • Hardware stores, plumbers, electricians, and other service providers necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and other essential businesses
  • Businesses that provide necessities of life for economically disadvantaged individuals and shelter facilities
  • Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, and goods directly to residences
  • Roles required for any Essential Business to “maintain basic operations,” which include security, payroll, and similar activities

Essential businesses must comply with social distancing requirements. This includes retail establishments such as grocery stores, establishing controls that require a minimum of six feet of distance between patrons in lines queuing in front of and inside stores.  

View this table to help better understand the impact of Orders on specific businesses. These regulations are subject to change and businesses should check back regularly for updates.

Austin Public Health has also developed guidance for essential employers to help prevent workplace exposure to respiratory illness, including COVID-19.   

Essential employees should refrain from reporting to work when falling within any of the following criteria and follow the initial self-quarantine recommendations 

  • If you have signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as a cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat; 
  • Have a fever greater than 99.6°F; 
  • In the previous 14 days has had contact with someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 and did not have the appropriate personal protective equipment designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); is under investigation for COVID-19; or is ill with a respiratory illness; 
  • Traveled to an area the World Health Organization or CDC considers a “Hotspot.” 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is there a Stay At Home Order?

There is substantial community transmission of the virus, which is easily spread between people. Many people who have it don’t have symptoms or have mild symptoms. But they can easily spread the virus even if they don’t feel very bad. Some who get the virus, especially those over 60 years old, those who have weak immune systems, and those with various medical conditions, can end up with serious complications and could need medical intervention such as oxygen or help breathing. 

Because the virus spreads so easily, without intervention like this Order, many people could need medical attention, placing a strain our hospital system. We may not have enough beds or equipment to adequately care for the most seriously ill. It is critical that we do everything in our power to slow down the spread of the virus and “flatten the curve” to avoid overwhelming our health care system. If this succeeds, it means that there will be health care available for those who get sick with COVID-19 or who need emergency medical care for accidents, heart attacks, strokes, and other serious medical conditions.

When does this start? How long will this last?

The Order goes into effect at 11:59pm Tuesday, March 24 and continues through April 13 unless modified, to further contain the spread of COVID-19 in Austin and Travis County.


What can I do? What’s open?

Healthcare: Hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, and other health care services Food: Grocery stores, farmers’ markets, food banks, convenience stores, carry-out or delivery restaurants Veterinary Clinics Hardware Stores Gas Stations Parks Banks Laundromats/laundry services

View the complete Public Health Order HERE


Does this apply to the People Experiencing Homelessness?

People experiencing homelessness are encouraged to seek shelter. The City will continue to work with state and local partners, to maximize available resources for these individuals.


Can I visit friends and family?

All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household or dwelling unit is prohibited, with exception to essential activities and essential work or members of a household or dwelling unit.

Caring for a family member, the elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons in another household is considered an essential activity and is not impacted by the Order.


Am I allowed to travel?

Travel including on-foot, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, automobile, or public transit, is solely authorized for purposes of performing essential activities or going to work in an essential business, government service, or critical infrastructure and essential travel needs. Essential travel includes moving out of an educational institution, court-ordered travel and travel to minister remote religious service.


What mental health resources are available for people in distress?

Your emotional needs are important and if you are worried or upset, there is help. You may be feeling anxiety and worry, sleeping troubles, over or under eating, or sadness and depressed mood. If you have any of these symptoms, please reach out to: 

 Integral Care 24-Hour Crisis Hotline: 512-472-HELP (4357) 

National Alliance for Mental Illness Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or text NAMI to 741741  

Monday-Friday 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. ET 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255  


What if my home isn’t a safe environment?

If it is not safe for you to remain home, you are urged to find another safe place to stay during this Order. Please reach out to: 

SAFE: 512-267-7233 

Hope Alliance: 800-460-7233 

The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-877-863-6338 


What should I do if my business is impacted and I need housing assistance?

The Neighborhood Housing and Community Development (NHCD) Department offers information and referrals to assist impacted community members with immediate housing needs:   

Austin Tenants Council provides counseling related to the eviction process, tenant-landlord issues, mediates disputes, provides workshops, and identifies fair housing issues to resolve or minimize discriminatory housing practices.   

Austin 2-1-1 is a free social service hotline available 24 hours a day.   

Aunt Bertha is a website that matches qualified individuals with food, housing, transit, health/medical, education, and legal help.   

Eviction Service Resources website provides information regarding legal assistance, emergency grants for rent or utilities, alternate housing, short-term motel vouchers, or placement in a local shelter.   

Avoiding Mortgage Foreclosure website provides information about refinancing or modifying mortgage loans, lowering payments, or other solutions to avoid foreclosure.   

NHCD has resources for homeowners and resources for renters.  

Additional resources can be found on the Community Resources Directory 


What should I do if my business is financially impacted and I need financial assistance?

The Austin Economic Development Department is offering services for businesses who may find themselves struggling in the coming weeks. They include free business coaching, emergency planning resources, and a Family Business Loan Program.   

Businesses with questions about the new Orders are asked to call Austin 3-1-1. They are also advised that the Order adopted by the City of Austin suspends all deadlines imposed by Austin City Code, ordinance, rule, or other regulation until May 1, 2020. 


How will the Order be enforced?

This order will be enforced by Peace officers, City of Austin Code Department inspectors, and the Office of the Austin Fire Marshal. Violations of these orders are a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days. 

Dine-in restaurants Bars and nightclubs Gyms, yoga and fitness studios Public or private, indoor or outdoor gatherings
View the complete Public Health Order HERE


What can’t I do? What’s closed?

Nonessential business must close or operate remotely (i.e. work from home).



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