The City of Austin has taken many actions to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Even before Governor Greg Abbott issued a State of Disaster in Texas, Austin Mayor Steve Adler had already issued a Declaration of Local Disaster for Austin on March 6, 2020.

To continue to protect Austin residents from the coronavirus, the new order extending the shelter at home provisions also includes information about the need to wear facemasks.

The information below discusses some information contained in the Stay Home – Work Safe Orders for Austin. It is strongly recommended that all individuals read the orders and access information from the City’s website. A violation of the provisions of either order is a criminal offense.

Austin Police Officers Will Enforce the Facemask Requirement

Violating the facemask requirement is a criminal offense. However, the City recognizes that compliance with the order substantially relies on community commitment and self-reliance.

Nonetheless, the Austin Police Department intends to enforce the facemask requirement, according to APD Assistant Chief Robin Henderson. The police department plans to engage in “education and awareness” to help people understand the facemask requirements and how to comply with the order.

If someone has been warned and continues to violate the facemask order, that person may receive a citation from a police officer. Officers are aware of the exceptions and exemptions for the facemask requirement. However, repeated violations may warrant charges of a criminal offense.

Residents of Austin are encouraged to follow the guidelines and requirements of the stay at home orders to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Stay Home – Work Safe Orders for Austin, TX

Following the Declaration of Local Disaster, Mayor Adler issued a Stay Home-Work Safe Order for Austin residents on March 24, 2020. The order required that residents remain at their home beginning on March 24, 2020, and continuing until April 3, 2020.

The order required that people shelter in place in their homes except for leaving home for leaving home for essential services and goods. Individuals who work in an essential business may leave home for work. The order restricted travel and activities throughout the City.

On April 13, 2020, Mayor Adler extended the Stay-Home-Work Safe Order through May 8, 2020. The current order kept in place the provisions of the previous order. It also added new conditions, including the need for Austin residents to wear a protective facemask when leaving home.

When do I Need to Wear a Facemask in Austin, TX?

All individuals over the age of 10 must wear a facemask when leaving their homes. Facemasks help slow the spread of COVID-19 by a person infected with the virus. A facemask should cover the person’s nose and mouth.

According to the order, a homemade mask, bandana, scarf, or handkerchief is appropriate if it covers the nose and mouth. The orders say people must wear a mask when leaving home except in the following situations:

  • When you are alone indoors or outdoors in a single space;
  • You are only in the presence of members of your home;
  • When wearing a facemask would pose a greater risk to safety, security, mental health, or physical health;
  • When engaging in certain outdoor activities for your health, such as walking, running, or hiking; or,
  • When drinking beverages or eating food.

Parents and guardians have the responsibility of ensuring children under 10 have the required facemask in place when the order requires wearing a facemask.

An exhibit to the stay at home order provides detailed information about when you are required to wear facemasks in Austin, TX.

People must wear a facemask when entering any building open to the public, pumping gas, using public transportation, and when social distancing cannot be maintained in any outside or inside location. The City is providing signage for essential businesses to advise customers of the requirement to wear fabric face coverings when entering the building.

Additional information about facemasks and COVID-19 is provided online by the City of Austin, including instructions for making a homemade facemask.

Does Wearing a Facemask Replace Social Distancing?

No, you are still required to maintain social distancing and all other measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Homemade facemasks do not prevent you from contracting the virus. They do help prevent people from spreading the virus when they are ill, but they are not showing symptoms.