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City of Austin & Travis County 'Stay at Home' orders extended to May 8

(CBS Austin)
(CBS Austin)
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The City of Austin and Travis County have extended their 'Stay at Home' orders until Friday, May 8, which now requires most of the community wear face coverings when out in public.

Local orders have kept most residents stuck at home and most businesses closed since March 24th. That order was set to expire Monday night.

The new orders were posted on the City of Austin and Travis County websites. The restrictions are meant to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Mayor Steve Adler spoke with CBS Austin on Monday follow the latest extension of the order.

"What we’re doing is working. It’s keeping people alive. It’s buying us time to make sure that we have all the supplies that we need, all the capacity that we need," said Adler, urging that residents continue practicing social distancing.

Now, in addition to keeping a 6 foot distance between others out in public, anyone over the age of 10 leaving their home is required to wear some form of covering over their nose and mouth. This is required 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.

"Certainly going into grocery stores and 7-Eleven and that kind of thing," said Adler. "People should not be wearing the N 95 mask, the surgical masks. That we want to keep for healthcare professionals, and our first-responders. The order with respect to face coverings for all the rest of us are just talking about fabric."

A fabric 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, but face coverings are also part of our foreseeable future to safely reopen our society.”

Fabric stores have also been included as an essential business in this latest order, so people can buy material to make face masks.

Adler acknowledged enforcing the face covering requirement could be difficult, but he hopes Austinites will be responsible. Also, he encourages essential businesses, like grocery stores, to make sure the public complies.

"We really need to get to the place, where not only are we slowing the rate [of COVID-19], but we’re getting the number of new cases down a lot," said Adler.

Adler says wearing masks, stay home as much as possible and practicing social distancing could be crucial in helping speed up the timeline for when Austin's economy can reopen. He says once the city does start to reopen businesses, residents may need to continue wearing face coverings for a period of time.

"We really to need to have the data over the next week to 10 days to see if what we’ve been doing works," he said.

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Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt will discuss the latest 'Stay Home, Work Safe' order at a press conference on Tuesday at noon.

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