Governor's Orders

The State of Texas has announced a phased reopening of businesses and services. The Order, issued by Governor Abbott, provides guidance for employers, employees, and customers of reopened businesses.

For more information on the Governor's orders and regulations, visit the Texas Coronavirus Resources and Response Page.

City of Austin Orders

Austin-Travis County residents are directed to continue practicing social distancing, hygiene, and face covering behaviors under City and County Orders adopted on June 15. The "Stay Home Save Lives Order" replaces the original "Stay Home-Work Safe Order." In addition to hygiene guidelines, the orders state that social gatherings up to 10 people should be avoided or minimized, and socializing in groups of 10+ individuals outside of the same household are prohibited.

In addition, a Stay Home, Mask, And Otherwise Be Safe order was issued on July 02, 2020 and a Stay Home, Mask, and Otherwise Be Safe order was issued on June 22, 2020, that includes parts of the Health & Safety for Businesses order, issued on June 17, which directs all businesses to implement a health and safety plan related to COVID-19 by June 23. The order also includes a requirement for employees and customers to wear face coverings in most circumstances. Please see the order for details.

While the County is in Stage 4 Alert, vulnerable individuals should avoid groups of more than two. Both the County Order and the City orders expire August 15.

County and Health Authority Orders

Notice of Emergency Rules Adoption and Order, BY: Mark E. Escott, MD, MPH FACEP FAEMS, Interim, Medical Director and Health Authority; Effective on August 4, 2020, and expire on November 12, 2020, unless the rules are withdrawn or amended. - July 30, 2020

On July 9, 2020, Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe signed County Judge Order 2020-14; Relating to the COVID-19 Community Restrictions, effective as of 12:01 a.m., Saturday, July 11, 2020, and continuing through 11:59 p.m. on August 15, 2020 unless extended. The order continues the local disaster declaration and public health emergency for Travis County. Visit TravisCountyTx.Gov for more.

What You Need to Know

The Public Health Order asks that all Austin/Travis County residents avoid nonessential outings and stay inside as much as possible to contain the spread of COVID-19.

It’s still fine to leave your home to buy groceries, go for a run, walk the dog, pick up medicine, visit a doctor or travel to and from work.

Does the Governor’s Order now require people to wear a face covering?

Yes. According to the Governor’s Order (GA-29), every person over the age of 10 is required to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth when inside a commercial entity or other building or space open to the public, or when in an outdoor public space, wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household.

Exceptions to this requirement include:

  • when a person is alone, or in the presence only of other members of the same household or residence,
  • in single room or space;
  • when voting, assisting someone in voting, serving as a poll watcher, or actively administering an election;
  • when swimming in a pool, lake, or similar body of water;
  • when actively providing or obtaining access to religious worship;
  • when visibility of the mouth is necessary for communication by or with a person who is hearing impaired;
  • when eating or drinking; when outdoors if consistent separation of 6 feet or more can be maintained;
  • when driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household;
  • or when wearing a mask poses a greater mental or physical health, safety or security risk due to a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability.
 

Parents and Guardians of children under 10 shall be responsible for appropriately masking children when outside their residence.  

Medical grade (N95) and surgical masks should be reserved and used only by medical professionals and first responders. Examples of how to make cloth face coverings can be found under “You and Your Family” and from the CDC. 

FAQs Regarding the City and Governor Orders

Can someone hold a garage sale?

Yes. Outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited excect as otherwise provided. Therefore, no more than 10 people could be present at the garage sale at once. Social distancing and mask requirements must be followed.

Can a memorial service be held generally? Or in a parking lot where everyone stays in their car?

Yes. If the memorial is a religious service, there are no occupancy limits for an indoor or outdoor service. If not a religious service, indoor venues are limited to 50% occupancy.

Yes. Outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited except as otherwise provided. If memorial service participants are separated by household in separate cars, they are not gathering in an outdoor area. Therefore, the ban on outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people does not apply to the memorial services in cars. Masking and social distancing requirements must be followed.

Does the Governor’s Order mean that all employees, essential and non-essential, can go back to work if their business is allowed to open?

Employers of businesses that are permitted to reopen will determine the number of employees that will return to work.

Where do social gatherings fit in the new executive order?

The Governor’s Proclamation dated July 2, 2020 amended (GA-28) to state that except as provided in his order or the DSHS minimum standard health protocols found at www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus, people shall not be in groups larger than 10 and shall maintain six feet of social distance from those not in their group. Except as permitted by the Governor’s Order, the Proclamation requires approval from the Mayor or County Judge to hold outdoor gatherings in groups larger than 10.

The City’s Order is consistent with the Governor’s Order and provides that social gatherings shall be avoided or minimized. Socializing in a group of more than 10 individuals are prohibited, unless expressly allowed by the Governor’s Order. Social distancing and masking requirements must be followed. Vulnerable individuals (those over 65, who are immunocompromised, or who have underlying health conditions) shall particularly avoid groups of more than two beyond the members of their single household or residence.

According to the Governor’s order can people attend the following events (and how many people can attend)?

Guidance for Faith-Based Services, Places of Worship and Funerals

A version of this information is available in English | Spanish | Traditional Chinese | Simplified Chinese | Vietnamese | Arabic 

Festivals/Gatherings:  Permitted. Indoor venues are subject to the 50% occupancy limit. Outdoor areas or venues that are subject to the 50% occupancy limit are: professional, collegiate, or similar sporting events; swimming pools; water parks; museums and libraries; zoos, aquariums, natural caverns, and similar facilities; and rodeos and equestrian events. Except as otherwise provided, all other outdoor gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people. Social distancing and masking requirements must be followed.

Funerals:  Permitted. If the funeral is a religious service, there are no occupancy limits for an indoor or outdoor service. If not a religious service, indoor venues are limited to 50% occupancy. Outdoor venues are limited to no more than 10 people. Masking and social distancing requirements must be followed.

Picnics: Permitted. Must be 10 people or less at an outdoor gathering. Both the Governor’s Order and the City’s Order require that social gatherings with those outside your household be avoided or minimized. Face coverings are required expect when consuming food.

Religious Services: Permitted. There are no occupancy limits for religious services.

Weddings: Permitted. If the wedding is a religious service, there are no occupancy limits for an indoor or outdoor service. If not a religious service, indoor venues are limited to 50% occupancy. Outdoor venues are not subject to the 10-attendee limitation on outdoor gatherings so long as people are seated at tables of no more than 10 people or in rows that allow for adequate social distancing and otherwise comply with the health protocols provided for in the Governor’s Open Texas Checklist found at https://gov.texas.gov/organization/opentexas.  Masking and social distancing requirements must be followed as provided for in both the Governor’s Order and the City’s Order.

Will/when are City facilities going to open?

The City Manager will determine the appropriate time to open City facilities based on the available data concerning the containment of the COVID-19 virus. Please check the City website for information on specific openings and closures. When City facilities are open, all persons over the age of 10 must wear a face mask while on the premises unless expressly exempted. 

Can THIS business open? Includes pet groomers, escape rooms, art, music, and others.

GA-26 provided that all Texas businesses may reopen subject to certain occupancy limits, generally 50% though different limits may apply to specific businesses. Please consult GA-26 for specific information about your business.

May a person engage in outdoor sports?

According to the DSHS minimum standard health protocols found at www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus, individuals may engage in outdoor sports, provided that the sports do not include contact with other participants and not more than 10 participants play the sport at any time. Masking and social distancing requirements must be followed.

Who determines occupancy for businesses?

The Development Services Department will assist businesses in determining occupancy.  

What if any changes apply to nursing homes?

The Governor’s new Order does not change the current requirements for local nursing homes issued by the Austin-Travis County Local Health Authority on April 20, 2020.

What does this mean for childcare facilities? Are these allowed to open for non-essential workers? Are there limits on the number of children and/or teachers?

Childcare facilities may continue to to operate under GA-26.

How do the Governor’s orders impact/change the direction/guidance that the City has for the construction industry?

Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce (CISA) operations are permitted to operate without occupancy restrictions. Social distancing and masking requirements must be followed. Additional construction requirements are listed in Exhibit D of the Mayor’s Order.

Does the City’s Order continue to apply in light of the Governor’s new Order?
On July 2, 2020, the Governor issued Governor’s Order (GA-29) and a Proclamation amending Governor’s Order (GA-28). GA-28 still applies except as specifically modified by GA-29 or the Governor’s Proclamation. In response to the Governor’s Order and Proclamation, the Mayor issued the Stay Home, Mask, and Otherwise Be Safe Order (Order No. 20200702) on July 2, 2020. This Order applies along with the Order and Proclamation issued by the Governor.
How will the City enforce business capacity limits?

The occupancy limit will be enforced by the Austin Police Department, the Austin Code Department, and the Austin Fire Marshal. The first step of the enforcement process is education. Subsequent complaints that are verified may result in criminal penalties.

How will the City determine the 50% limit?

The Development Services Department will assist businesses in determining occupancy. Except for manufacturing services and office workers, staff members/employees are not included when determining occupancy limits.

What should I do if I believe a business is not complying with the 50% capacity limit?

Complaints should be referred to 311.

As a business owner, can I require that my customers wear face coverings?

Yes. Under the City’s Order, all business establishments (including not-for-profit entities) and commercial entities (including with limitation condominium and multifamily residential, office common area, and individual office spaces), and the operators of venues or events open to the public, are ordered to implement and maintain a health and safety plan  related to the transmission of the COVID -19 virus.

At a minimum, the plan must require that all customers, visitors, and employees wear face coverings over their noses and mouths while on any part of the business’s or venue’s premises. Exceptions to this requirement include: when a person is alone, or in the presence only of other members of the same household or residence, in single room or space; when visibility of the mouth is necessary for communication by or with a person who is hearing impaired; when eating or drinking; when outdoors if consistent separation of 6 feet or more can be maintained; or when wearing the mask poses a greater mental or physical health, safety or security risk due to a medical condition, mental health condition or disability.  

What is still prohibited by the Governor’s Order?

Bars and similar establishments are closed for in-person service under the Governor’s Order. Commercial rafting and tubing services are prohibited from operating. Outdoor and social gatherings of over 10 people are prohibited expect as otherwise provided.

People shall not visit nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance as determined through guidance from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC).

Why is there a Stay At Home Order?

There is substantial community transmission of the virus, which is easily spread between people. Many people who have it don’t have symptoms or have mild symptoms, but they can easily spread the virus even if they don’t feel very bad. Some who get the virus, especially those over the age of 60, those who have weak immune systems, and those with various medical conditions, can end up with serious complications and could need medical intervention such as oxygen or help breathing. 

Because the virus spreads so easily, without intervention like this Order, many people could need medical attention, placing a strain our hospital system. There may not be enough beds or equipment to adequately care for the most seriously ill. It is critical that we do everything in our power to slow down the spread of the virus and “flatten the curve” to avoid overwhelming our health care system. If this succeeds, it means that there will be health care available for those who get sick with COVID-19 or who need emergency medical care for accidents, heart attacks, strokes, and other serious medical conditions.

Can the city still enforce a stay-home order if the state's order expires?

Yes. The City of Austin’s June 15, 2020 stay home order is still in effect and will extend through to August 15, 2020, and does not depend on the existence of a state order to be effective.

Do I still need to wear a face covering when entering a business open under the State and City orders?

We are still requiring individuals to continue to wear face coverings. In addition, to still comply with the 6-feet social distancing and hand washing, as these remain important steps to slowing the spread of the virus. 

Can I visit friends and family?

Social gatherings outside of members of the same household should be avoided and are discouraged, and vulnerable persons particularly should avoid social contact. All public and private gatherings—including gatherings of friends and family residing in different households or dwelling units—greater than 10 occurring outside a single household or dwelling unit is prohibited.

The more we can limit the number of person-to-person interactions, the more we can hope to contain the spread.

Telephonic or virtual visits are unaffected and highly encouraged. Caring for a family member, the elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons in another household is considered an essential activity and is not impacted by the Order.

Can I exercise or walk my pet?

Yes. Individuals may go on a walk, get exercise, or take a pet outside, as long as at least six feet of physical distancing is maintained. City of Austin park green space and trails have remained open for activities like walking, hiking, jogging or biking. However, some facilities and amenities have been closed. View full details of the City's modified park system operations here.

Can I go to the laundromat?
Yes. Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers are considered essential businesses. However, you should still maintain social distancing from others as best as possible and wash your hands.
What help is available for victims of domestic violence?

If it is not safe for you to remain home, you are urged to find another safe place to stay during this order. Please reach out to:

SAFE: 512-267-7233

Hope Alliance: 800-460-7233

The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-877-863-6338

@SAFEatx

How does the Order impact people experiencing homelessness?

Homeless individuals are not subject to the shelter in place order but are encouraged to seek shelter. The City will continue to work with state and local partners, to maximize available resources for the homeless population. To the extent individuals are using shared or outdoor spaces, they shall, to the greatest extent feasible, comply with physical distancing and face covering requirements. For more information, visit www.AustinTexas.gov/Homelessness.

Is it safe to have an inspector in my home under the current Orders?

To keep residents and our inspectors safe, we have temporarily suspended interior inspections of occupied dwellings except when there is an immediate threat to life or safety.