Despite the recent relaxations in guidelines, the threat of COVID-19 has not dissipated, Lakeway Mayor Sandy Cox said.
Cox began her weekly live broadcast May 7 by stating the Lakeway area saw an increase in six coronavirus cases over the course of a week.
“Even though we’re opening up businesses and activities ... we still really need to practice good social distancing,” Cox said.
Travis County residents are no longer required to wear face coverings in public; however, Cox encouraged their use along with other health guidelines.
Actions such as frequent hand-washing and social distancing will aid in the city in protecting its most vulnerable residents, she said.
“We have a very large at-risk population in Lakeway,” Cox said, adding protecting this section of the community remains a top concern as businesses are able to reopen.
Gov. Greg Abbott has also announced a number of orders since Cox’s last broadcast. Cosmetology salons, barbershops and hair salons are permitted to reopen May 8 with required social distancing guidelines. Gyms and fitness centers will reopen May 18.
“Please have patience with all these vendors,” Cox said. “They are having to operate in a very different way, so just bear with them.”
According to Cox, Abbott’s orders also allow for weddings to take place with a capacity cap of 25%, following similar guidelines placed on restaurants.
A tentative opening date has not been announced for bars or interactive entertainment centers, such as Lakeway’s High Five Family Entertainment Center.
One of the largest questions within the community has surrounded graduation ceremonies, Cox said.
“Outdoor graduations are only available from May 15 to the end of this month for rural counties and cities,” Cox said. “It’s not for our area.”
On June 1, outdoor ceremonies will be permitted for all Texas counties; however, Lake Travis ISD has not announced any updated graduation plans.
Gordon Butler, the principal of Lake Travis High School, announced April 16 plans to host a virtual graduation May 22 to honor graduating seniors as well as a physical graduation Aug. 1 at the H-E-B Center in Cedar Park.
The district is exploring all available options, according to Marco Alvarado, LTISD's communications and media director. No further decisions have been made at this time.
More information on Abbott’s orders can be found on Lakeway’s website, along with a number of resources for the community.
Amid the pandemic, a number of Lakeway’s pastors developed Lake Travis One, an organization set in place to aid residents in need. The effort is lead by Larry Coulter, senior pastor of the Lakeway Church.
According to Cutler, when the pandemic arose, the area’s religious leaders realized it would require a collaborative effort.
Combined, the area’s churches serve approximately 10,000 residents, who were called upon by Lake Travis One.
“We called all of those 10,000 and said, ‘What we would love for you to do is care for the eight homes around you,’” Coulter said.
Resources were also put in place to combat the economic hardship brought on by COVID-19. The churches have collected food, funds and basic necessities, many of which have been funneled into local organizations, including Lake Travis Crisis Ministry.
The nonprofit, lead by President Pam Wolf, provides food, financial assistance and support to residents living within the boundaries of LTISD.
“I cannot express to the Lakeway community the magnitude of thanks that I have for everyone in this area,” Wolf said.
Lake Travis Crisis Ministry is located at 107 S. RM 620, Lakeway, and has remained open on Wednesday evenings and Thursdays mornings throughout the pandemic.
“My goal here today is to tell you that we are here to help, and we’re ready and willing,” Wolf said.
Financial assistance is available for those struggling to pay for groceries, rent, utilities, car payments and more. Residents can visit the nonprofit’s location to sign up while maintaining social distance.
“I’ve lived here for 20 years and grew up in Austin,” Wolf said. “I’m telling you this is one of the best communities, and they’re so generous.”