Austin-Travis County health authority adopts emergency COVID-19 rules, orders

The Health Authority for Austin-Travis County has adopted emergency rules and orders that promote the health and safety of Austin-Travis County residents in the fight against COVID-19.

Last week, Austin City Council authorized the health authority to adopt rules to protect individuals from COVID-19, creating an offense and penalty and declaring an emergency. On Tuesday, Dr. Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority, adopted rules that align with the Council's actions.

RELATED: Austin Public Health launches map of public, private COVID-19 testing locations

The rules are effective July 14 and expire on November 12. The order mandates face coverings be worn by all residents when outside of their home, with the following exceptions:

  • any person younger than 10 years of age (though it is still recommended for children two years of age and older)
  • any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering
  • any person while the person is eating or drinking, or is seated at a restaurant to eat or drink
  • any person while the person is exercising outdoors or engaging in physical activity outdoors and maintaining a safe distance from others not in the same household
  • any person driving alone or with passengers of the same household as the driver
  • any person obtaining a service that requires temporary removal for security surveillance, screening, or the need for specific access to the face, such as while visiting a bank or while obtaining a personal care service involving the face, but only to the extent necessary for the temporary removal
  • any person in a swimming pool, lake, or similar body of water
  • any person voting, assisting a voter, serving as a poll watcher, or actively administering an election, but wearing a face-covering is strongly encouraged
  • any person actively providing or obtaining access to religious worship
  • any person giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience
  • any person while temporary removal of the face-covering is necessary for communication by or with a person who is hearing impaired
  • any person alone, or in the presence of only members of the same household or residence, in a separate room or single space not accessible to the public, and not in an indoor common area

No more than ten people are allowed to stand or gather together, and individuals must stand at least six feet apart from others excepting in the following situations:

  • When passing another individual is incidental and momentary
  • When all individuals reside in the same household
  • When it is not feasible to maintain six feet distance between a service provider and patron
  • When individuals are dining in groups of less than ten
  • A parent or guardian of a child under the age of 10 is responsible for maintaining physical distance between the child in their household and others’ households

A group of ten or fewer must be at least six feet from another group of ten or fewer except when the groups are seated at tables at least four feet apart and separated by a solid barrier.


Dr. Escott has also created orders requiring all public and private schools offering instruction to students in one or more grades, pre-kindergarten through grade 12 and any independent school districts within Austin-Travis County, to take a range of immediate actions to enhance protections against the spread of COVID-19 among the community.

These orders are also effective July 14 and the following restrictions are effective now:

  • School systems shall not re-open schools for on-campus, face-to-face instruction until after September 7
  • Virtual instruction shall be permitted as per a school system’s own plan
  • Extracurricular sports and activities shall not take place until school systems re-open for on-campus instruction
  • At least two weeks prior to re-opening for on-campus instruction and on-campus activities, the school or district shall develop a plan to be submitted for re-opening on-campus activities and instruction and make the plan available for parents and general public.

“After consultation with stakeholders, direction and guidance for re-opening schools for on-campus instruction will be issued prior to September 7,” Dr. Escott said. “This order includes appropriate control measures based on the higher risk for spread of COVID-19 in schools due to the necessity of large groups gathering in indoor spaces and the difficulty for children to follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines.”


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