Austin-Travis County extends ordinance allowing enforcement of COVID-19 rules

On Tuesday, Travis County commissioners and Austin City Council members voted to extend an ordinance allowing enforcement of COVID-19 rules set by the Health Authority

"One of the reasons we’re doing this is for the community," said Mayor Steve Adler at Tuesday’s meeting. "Many of those people, the schools, the private businesses, really want us to step forward and join with the Health Authority to provide that measure of direction." 

Rules listed in the ordinance include mask-wearing for both unvaccinated and vaccinated people. Those who are unvaccinated are asked to avoid crowds and social distance at all times.

It doesn’t require – but encourages – business owners to provide incentives for workers to get vaccinated.

One speaker who called in to Tuesday's meeting pushed back. "It is not an emergency anymore, cases are way down," she said. "It is unreasonable to continue these restrictive rules and impose penalties." 

Council member Mackenzie Kelly, the only "no" vote Tuesday, encouraged individuals to take precautions but said she was opposed to another mandate.

"The information that we see on the COVID-19 Dashboard in my view does not support extending an ordinance that includes penalties for almost an additional year," said Councilmember Kelly.

According to the COVID-19 Dashboard, 116 people are currently hospitalized and 18 are on ventilators in the Austin MSA, which includes Travis County and four surrounding counties.

Guidance for schools is also included in the ordinance which requires masks to be worn on school campuses and school buses. 

Austin ISD’s director of health services believes masking, along with expanding vaccination and testing opportunities, has helped keep their case counts down.

"Masking has been an integral approach in decreasing the spread of COVID and we’re hoping it’s also effective against the variant," said Alana Bejarano. "That’s our plan going forward is to continue with those protective measures." 

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