With shelter in place coming tomorrow in Travis and Williamson counties, officials preview expectations

A photo of a medical face mask, pills and a paper that reads "COVID-19"
Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt confirmed the county plans to issue a shelter in place order on March 24. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt confirmed the county plans to issue a shelter in place order on March 24. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt formally announced on a March 23 press call that the county plans to issue a shelter in place order March 24, with a probable effective time of midnight that evening. Eckhardt's comments echoed Mayor Steve Adler's confirmation that the city of Austin would also announce such an order, which would take inspiration from shelter-in-place orders already in place in Dallas County, Waco and Kansas City.

Eckhardt said that she expected Williamson County to make a similar order tomorrow.

“We are looking at an order that requires all non-essential businesses to function as a work from home, or to significantly curtail their business activities," Eckhardt said.

The order will have four major provisions, she said, including allowances for essential activities, government functions, critical functions and business functions. All non-essential businesses will be ordered to have employees work from home, but Travis County residents will still be free to go out to do essential tasks such as grocery shopping, visiting pharmacies and medical trips. She also said the order would likely last 2-3 weeks.

Eckhardt confirmed that Travis County's order would hold similarities with other counties and municipalities that have already issued shelter-in-place orders.


"Major counties and major cities have all been looking at the same example orders from across the United States when crafting their own," she said.

Several other populous Texas cities and counties have already issued shelter in place orders, which dictate that individuals should refrain from leaving their places of residence except to conduct essential business or duties. In Dallas County, essential functions were outlined as healthcare work, essential critical infrastructure work, and operations that support residences and other businesses.

Eckhardt did not specifically outline what methods would be used to enforce the order, but said officials will predominantly rely "on the good sense, the good will, and the everyday heroism of Travis County residents."

However, Eckhardt also said that a statewide shelter-in-place order would be more effective that a "piecemeal" approach in ensuring that every major metropolitan area in Texas cuts gatherings of any size—although Gov. Greg Abbott has said he will not issue a statewide order.
By Olivia Aldridge

Olivia is the reporter for Community Impact's Southwest Austin edition. She graduated from Presbyterian College with a bachelor's degree in English and creative writing in 2017. Olivia was a reporter and producer at South Carolina Public Radio in Columbia, South Carolina before joining Community Impact in Austin.


MOST RECENT

Austin and Travis County adopted new guidelines, recommending local residents wear face masks or fabric covering when out in public. (Christopher Neely/Community impact Newspaper)
5 coronavirus stories Austin-area readers might have missed

Readers might have missed the following five coronavirus-related stories.

Animal adoption, foster numbers up as Austin community comes together to support shelters

Austin animal shelters report increases in animal forster applications, adoptions and intakes.

Passover, a major observance for members of the Jewish community, begins April 8. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many services are being held online. (Courtesy Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston)
Austin’s Jewish community prepares for Passover observance under quarantine

Synagogues and Jewish organizations in Austin have pivoted to offer online Passover Seders to families in lock down ahead.

Austin and Travis County adopted new guidelines, recommending local residents wear face masks or fabric covering when out in public. (Christopher Neely/Community impact Newspaper)
Austin health officials are tracking 8 clusters of confirmed coronavirus cases

The clusters are groups of coronavirus cases health officials know are related to one another.

A $4.3 billion project to improve I-35 through Central Austin will include a $600 million piece that will be provided by deferring other projects in the area. (Courtesy Texas Department of Transportation)
Local political leaders look to free up $600 million for I-35 by potentially waiting on local projects such as Loop 360, RM 620, US 79 and Parmer Lane

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization is scheduled to vote April 13 on a list of projects to defer in order to fund an I-35 improvement project.

Minerva, captured here, is an eastern screech owl in Northwest Austin who laid five eggs that are expected to hatch sometime in April. (Courtesy Merlin the Owl)
WATCH HERE: Northwest Austin webcam streaming owlet eggs set to hatch in April

A Northwest Austin resident set up a webcam to capture two owls raise their owlets.

Yesenia and Antonio Morales welcomed their fourth child, Luka, on March 31. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Pregnancies won't stop in a pandemic, but growing precautions leave expecting mothers uncertain and anxious

As the coronavirus tightens its grip on Austin and much of the world, inevitable human events such as pregnancy and childbirth are having to adapt in the new, cautious and socially distanced reality.

Coronavirus stories readers might have missed from the Austin area

Here are nine stories Austin-area readers might have missed in our previous coverage.

Gregory Fenves will step down as the president of the University of Texas on June 30, according to a letter he wrote April 7 to the UT community. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
University of Texas President Gregory Fenves to leave for Emory University in Atlanta

University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves announced in a letter to the UT community that he will leave the state’s flagship college for Emory University.

The Austin ISD board of trustees met for a virtual board meeting April 6. (Courtesy Austin ISD)
Austin ISD approves new grading policy for coronavirus-impacted spring semester

Austin ISD will temporarily switch to a “pass or incomplete” grading scale for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.

Abbott's order closes all state parks and historical sites effective 5 p.m. April 7. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Gov. Abbott closes state parks, historical sites due to coronavirus concerns

Abbott said the closure is to help prevent large gatherings and strengthen social distancing.

VIDEO: Texas Tribune interview with Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar about the coronavirus's effects on the state economy

At 8 a.m. April 7, The Texas Tribune will host a live interview with Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, conducted by Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey.