AUSTIN, Texas - A stay home order for Travis County that was set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on April 13 has been extended until 11:59 p.m. Friday, May 8.
A key addition to the order extension is the requirement that the public wear fabric face coverings when conducting essential work or activities.
Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, Austin Mayor Steve Adler, and Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority discussed the reasons for the extension and the face covering requirement at a news conference at 12 p.m.
Highlights from the news conference:
- Judge Eckhardt says stay-at-home order has been working but there was a spike of social interactions and activity over Easter weekend.
- Dr. Escott says fabric face coverings were being required because studies show that people with no symptoms could be most contagious early on during the infection.
- In terms of enforcement, officials agreed that it was ultimately up to the community and that if the community doesn't embrace the face covering rules and social distancing guidelines than there will be targeted enforcement.
- Dr. Escott says the face covering requirement will likely last for some time.
- Dr. Escott also says that it takes about two weeks to see the impact of policy implementation so it'll take that long to see the impact of face coverings.
Everyone over the age of ten must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when in a public building, using public transportation or ride shares, pumping gas and while outside when six feet of physical distancing cannot be consistently maintained, according to Austin Public Health.
A face covering is not required when eating, riding in a personal vehicle, alone in a separate single space, or in the presence of other members of your residence. Additionally, a face covering is not required when wearing one poses a greater mental or physical health, safety or security risk such as anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.
“Face coverings are another key piece in flattening the curve,” said Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott. “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 city said at the time that all are ordered to stay home unless you absolutely have to leave for essential reasons. All essential businesses like grocery stores, banks, mail services remain open for use.
Judge Sarah Eckhardt made remarks last week, that the county is at a 64% reduction in contact, however, more will be needed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Mayor Steve Adler has also cited UT models, which show a peak for Austin-Travis County not happening until May or June. It is unclear if the city will also extend its order in concurrence with the county.
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