AUSTIN, Texas - Officials with the City of Austin and Travis County have extended the stay-at-home order for Austin-Travis County. Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt announced the extension of the order in a virtual press conference on Friday.
Adler said this is only an extension of the previous order and will incorporate the changes Governor Abbott has made as he begins to reopen businesses in Texas.
"Really, the only change is that we have now included the reopen businesses that the Governor had included as exceptions to the general stay-at-home orders," Adler said.
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Since May 1 up until now, Abbott has allowed several businesses including restaurants, movie theaters, and hair salons to reopen. Adler wants Austin residents to continue to socially distance, and so does the governor. He also urges all to continue wearing face coverings.
“The governor said we couldn't enforce face coverings with a criminal or civil penalty. In the city order, it's still mandatory. The penalty now is that more people will get sick and some of them will die. That ought to be penalty enough,” said Adler.
Adler and Eckhardt urged residents to continue following orders and avoid gatherings, observe social distancing, and wear face coverings, saying the county is still having an increase in hospitalizations in the county. "The coronavirus is not done with us yet," Eckhardt said.
Eckhardt said although the state is relaxing lockdown, the virus is still here and continues to attack the most vulnerable.
“I think often about my mother who died last year in hospice and I think about how difficult it is for people to die alone, isolated cruelly by COVID-19. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to not be able to visit my mother when she died,” said Eckhardt.
The announcement comes as the next phase of Governor Greg Abbott's plan to reopen Texas goes into effect today, allowing hair salons, nail salons, barbershops, and tanning salons across the state to reopen.
For that reason, Adler said the city is ramping up testing and resources inside the nursing homes, and increasing staff and strike teams when needed. He said as commerce slowly opens, it's important for all not to get too relaxed.
“This virus is infectious today as it was a month ago. It spreads quickly, everybody should be minimizing physical interactions as much as they possible can, as we dip our toe back into increased commercial and social interactions,” said Adler.
This is the second extension to the stay-at-home order, the first of which came on April 13. A key addition to the order extension on April 13 was the requirement that the public wear fabric face coverings when conducting essential work or activities.
“Face coverings are another key piece in flattening the curve,” said Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott in the first extension. “It is critical that the public understand that this will not only help in slowing the spread of the disease."
On March 24, Travis County issued the stay at home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The orders limited the public to only leave home for essential activity, essential business, essential government functions and critical care functions.
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