Building on Gov. Abbott’s Newest Guidelines, Austin Mayor Adler Issues New Local Order Prohibiting Groups Over 10 Outdoors

July 7, 2020 | Insights

By Kate Goodrich

On July 3, one day after Gov. Greg Abbott announced a new order to address the coronavirus crisis in Texas, Austin Mayor Steve Adler issued an updated Order for the City of Austin. Under Gov. Abbott’s statewide order, every person in Texas over the age of 10 located in a county with 20 or more coronavirus cases is now required to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth while in a business or other building open to the public, as well as outdoor public spaces, whenever social distancing is not possible.

The City of Austin Order builds on the Governor’s statewide restrictions, including the following provisions:

  • Groups of more than 10 people outdoors are prohibited.
  • Social gatherings of any size shall be avoided or minimized.
  • All individuals and business establishments are ordered to practice the social distancing, hygiene, and face covering behaviors, with limited exceptions.
  • All persons over the age of 10, with limited exceptions, must wear some form of covering that fits snugly over their nose and mouth when inside a commercial entity or other building or space open to the public, or when in an outdoor public space whenever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household.
  • All persons over the age of six must wear a mask or face covering at Austin City facilities.
  • 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 facilities, and long-term care facilities must prohibit non-critical assistance visitors or providers from accessing their facilities.
  • 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, 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 City of Austin Order is a violation of Austin City Code Section 2-6-24 and a criminal offense that may be punishable through criminal enforcement, except as limited by the Governor’s state order. A violation of this Order is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000, but may not be punished by confinement.

Businesses are still required to ensure that all patrons and employees wear a face covering while inside their business, unless it is exempted. Each day or a portion of each day during which this requirement is violated will constitute a separate offense.

An individual, rather than a business, who violates any provision of the city of Austin’s Order concerning the mandatory wearing of face coverings will be issued a warning. Each subsequent violation after that warning is punishable by a fine not to exceed $250 per violation, but not by confinement.

This new local order went into effect on July 3 at 12:01 p.m. and will be in effect through at least August 15, 2020.

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Please note: This article and any resources presented on the JW Coronavirus Insights & Resources site are for informational purposes only, do not constitute legal or medical advice, and are not a substitute for legal advice from qualified counsel. The laws of other states and nations may be entirely different from what is described. Your use of these materials does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Jackson Walker. The facts and results of each case will vary, and no particular result can be guaranteed.

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Kate Goodrich
Governmental Affairs Consultant, Austin