Austin city officials announced an extension of the city’s stay-home orders Friday, saying their approach is to emphasize behaviors such as social distancing and wearing masks, and to increase testing and contact tracing.
Gov. Greg Abbott has been relaxing stay-at-home requirements and allowing some nonessential businesses to reopen while emphasizing his refusal to enforce mandatory masks. He has also repeatedly said that his orders supersede those of county judges and mayors.
In a news conference Friday with Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said the city’s “Stay Hame, Work Safe” orders have been updated to comply with the governor’s orders, adding that Abbott's reopening comes “sooner than I had liked.” The city order will last until the end of the month, with additional measures on the horizon.
Social distancing is still mandated, and both Adler and Eckhardt urged residents to only leave their homes when essential. Although masks cannot be mandated with a penalty, Adler warned that the real penalty would be a spike in cases and said he was concerned by the number of people he saw without face coverings this week.
“My hope is that we can make the governor’s plan as successful as we can be,” Adler said. “I would just remind everybody that this virus is just as infective today as it was a month ago. The overarching message is still to stay home and stay safe.”