The item was placed on the agenda at the request of both Mayor Victor Gonzales and Mayor Pro Tem Omar Peña, with Peña saying April 14 that he had concerns that the nature of construction environments might not bode well for social distancing practices. City Manager Sereniah Breland said city staff who work in inspections have been "extremely conservative" in dealing with construction sites and have even turned away from a planned inspection if social distancing measures are not being obeyed. With Travis County's April 13 announcement that all citizens are expected to wear face masks while in public, Breland added she has seen more workers using personal protective equipment than previously.
Council Member Rudy Metayer said ultimately, the city is seeking voluntary compliance with the safety measures, and city staff have been seeing construction workers accommodating to the PPE protocol. Metayer added with the current state of nonessential business closures due to the coronavirus, keeping construction sites active—so long as workers are practicing social distancing—is important to help the city continually move forward.
Council Member Jeff Marsh said that through his experience working in construction, he knows many major construction companies are reassigning safety personnel and designating them as COVID-19 safety inspectors. The practice of safety personnel upholding social distancing practices and enforcing PPEs on workers, Marsh added, is more often the norm now and not the exception. Marsh said with the nature of construction sites, it is not advisable even under noncoronavirus circumstances for two workers to be in close proximity of each other.
The discussion concluded with the decision that no action would be taken by city officials at this time to suspend or prohibit construction activities within the city. As announced via executive order by Gov. Greg Abbott on March 31, construction work has been deemed an essential business and can continue.