Austin, Travis County announce shelter-in-place orders to take effect at midnight

A photo of Sarah Eckhardt and Mark Escott at a press conference
Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt and Austin-Travis County interim Health Authority Mark Escott attend a press conference on an Austin and Travis County shelter-in-place order March 24. (Courtesy Travis County)

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt and Austin-Travis County interim Health Authority Mark Escott attend a press conference on an Austin and Travis County shelter-in-place order March 24. (Courtesy Travis County)

Travis County and the city of Austin announced shelter-in-place orders at a March 24 press conference. While not identical, both orders dictate that individuals should remain in their places of residence except to conduct essential activities and that nonessential businesses should have employees work from home. The orders take effect at 11:59 p.m. tonight.

“At the end of the day, what [this] means is that we’re asking our community to stay home to the greatest extent possible,” Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said.

The orders come at the recommendation of Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott, who said the community should strive to reduce social contact by 90% in order to prevent the "unbridled growth of [the virus'] spread." In the absence of a shelter-in-place order, Escott said statistic modeling suggests the community would require 20,000 hospital beds a day by May.

“That modeling suggests that in the short term, in the next three to four weeks, our hospitals could reach capacity," Escott said.

Adler echoed Escott and Eckhardt's "stay home, work safe" message, emphasizing the critical need to increase social distancing.

"To the degree that you can, everybody should be staying home," Adler said.

According to Austin's order, essential businesses that are exempt from the order include health care operations, grocery stores, farms, social services and charitable organizations, gas stations, news media, financial institutions, hardware and supply stores, critical trades such as plumbers and electricians, mail and delivery services, laundry services, restaurants with takeaway operations, transportation, food delivery services, residential facilities and shelters, hotels and motels, moving supply services, home-based care, funeral services, educational institutions and child care facilities, and information technology services. Essential government services and businesses that offer supplies for those services are also considered essential.

Essential activities are defined as tasks related to health and safety, obtaining necessary services and supplies such as groceries, exercise that meets social distancing requirements, and caretaking duties.

In both Austin and Travis County, individuals experiencing homelessness are exempt from the shelter-in-place order, although they are encouraged to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet and to seek shelter if possible.

Williamson County also announced a shelter-in-place order at the press conference that largely echoed those that came from Austin and Travis County.

Community Impact Newspaper's coverage of Austin and Travis County shelter-in-place orders is ongoing. A story covering specifics is forthcoming. Any questions about the shelter-in-place order can be directed to
By Olivia Aldridge
Olivia is the reporter for Community Impact's Central Austin edition. A graduate of Presbyterian College in upstate South Carolina, Olivia was a reporter and producer at South Carolina Public Radio before joining Community Impact in Austin.


Construction continues at ArborView, with an opening anticipated for early 2021. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Under construction Greyrock Ridge senior community could see first residents in January

ArborView is a 62+ active-living community that will have 151 total units at build-out.

Graphic visualization of coronavirus
UT experts predict a 96% chance of worsening COVID-19 rates in Travis County in coming weeks

Travis County's health authority says individual actions can still turn the tide.

Early voting at the Ben Hur Shrine Temple
Some Austin-area polling locations have recorded 10,000-plus votes through first week of early voting

Three Williamson County polling locations have each reported more than 10,000 ballots cast in the first week of early voting.

Treaty Oak Distilling is located at 16604 Fitzhugh Road, Dripping Springs. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Treaty Oak Distilling looking to open second property for gin production, tastings

The distillery is planning to expand its gin production in 2021.

Capital Metro celebrated the opening of a renovated and expanded downtown Austin MetroRail hub Oct. 19. (Courtesy Capital Metro)
Capital Metro opens downtown Austin station and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Austin area.

Photo of a wall of "I voted" stickers
More than 30% of Travis County voters have cast their ballot in first week of early voting

Both in-person voting and by-mail voting in Travis County are up compared to the first week of early voting in 2016.

Photo of the downtown metro station
Expanded MetroRail station opens in Austin's downtown

Captial Metro hosted a grand opening for the new station Oct. 19.

Meanwhile Brewing Co.'s bar will offer mixed cocktails as well as beer. (Courtesy Meanwhile Brewing Co.)
Support Cobalt Blue Salon’s Cut For A Cure, two new bars open and more Southwest Austin business news

From bars to hair salons, learn about the latest Southwest Austin and Dripping Springs business news here.

Photo of a "for sale" sign in front of a house
Austin home sales are on the comeback after bottoming out in early spring

Low inventory and a delayed summer boom in home sales resulted in high sales for Austin in September.

The public-access lagoon will serve as the centerpiece for more than 1 million square feet of commercial development, including a full-service hotel and conference center planned for the property. (Rendering courtesy city of Leander)
'Game changer' development with lagoon coming to Leander and more top Central Texas news

Read the most popular news from the Austin area from the past week.

Austin City Council unanimously supported aiming its local stimulus package toward the long-term viability of local at-risk businesses. (Courtesy ATXN)
Austin City Council wants limited local stimulus package to help small businesses outlast pandemic, not just pay rent

Austin's mayor said he wants businesses helped by the program to be better off than they were before the pandemic.