Austin, Travis County extend shelter-in-place orders through May 8

Austin Mayor Steve Adler (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin Mayor Steve Adler (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin Mayor Steve Adler (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

Updated: April 13, 5:37 p.m.

The city of Austin and Travis County have issued new shelter-in-place orders that extend through May 8. The orders will go into effect following the expiration of the area's current "stay home, work safe" orders at 11:59 p.m. on April 13.

The updated orders from Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt include a new requirement that all area residents over the age of ten wear face coverings such as a homemade mask, scarf, bandana or handkerchief over their noses and mouths in public. According to the order, masks are not necessary when residents are alone, only in the presence of members of their household, exercising outside with more than six feet of social distancing from others, eating or drinking, or when wearing a mask would pose a health, safety or security risk.

Also included in the update are guidance for sick individuals, their family members and caretakers. All residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have had contact with someone who has should refrain from leaving their place of residence except to seek medical care, according to the city and county orders.

All construction activities, both residential and commercial, now fall under the classification of "critical infrastructure," per Austin and Travis County's orders. This update reflects Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order announcing that all construction in the state of Texas should be considered essential work.

Original post: April 13, 3:13 p.m.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said he and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt would extend the area's shelter-in-place order in an effort to maintain social distancing and slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The city and county's initial shelter-in-place order, set March 25, will expire after 11:59 p.m. on April 13. Adler confirmed to Community Impact Newspaper that he would be extending Austin's order on April 13, ahead of telling some City Council members during a housing committee meeting that Eckhardt would join him and also extend the county's order.

Adler said his order would include guidance for construction sites and the county would follow later this week with construction guidance as well. In the initial shelter-in-place order, Adler and Eckhardt urged most construction to cease; however, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott followed with an executive order that declared all construction in the state "essential." On April 12, Abbott extended the statewide disaster declaration.

As of April 12, Travis County had 774 confirmed coronavirus cases, with nine deaths and 140 recoveries. Last week, Adler said the area is projected to begin approaching its peak toward the end of April into May, during which Austin would experience a "dramatic increase in hospitalizations, with the apex coming around early June.

Adler said if the community could, through social distancing, maintain a decrease in physical interactions of 85% to 95%, the peak would not exceed the area's health care capacity. The mayor said social distancing has had positive results, but he remained concerned about people bunching up along the city's outdoor trails and gathering at parks. On April 13, after shutting down park amenities over the holiday weekend. the city announced it would reduce parking access at its parks and turn the city's most popular trail, the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail along Lady Bird Lake, into a one-way trail.

Christopher Neely - Olivia Aldridge