An order issued by the Mayor of Austin went into effect as of II :59 p.m. on March 24, 2020. The order will continue until April 13, 2020, unless otherwise notified. The order in essence limited or banned certained activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
STAY HOME -WORK SAFE ORDER 20200324-007
Mayor Steve Adler issued an order deeming it in the public interest to prohibit anywhere in the City of Austin, Social Gatherings of more than 10 people to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The order stated "all individuals anywhere in the City of Austin are required to shelter in place, except to perform certain essential activities, or to perform work in or obtain services from an Essential Business". This statement brought up the question "what is an essential business".
KVUE Defenders, a local news group, talked to one Austin man, Daniel Ochoa. He suffers from chronic neck pain and depends on CBD oil as a treatment.
"Severe pain in my neck that was shooting up into my head and giving me migraines," Ochoa reported to the investigators. Ochoa is frustrated because Austin's new 'stay home" order listed liquor stores as an "essential" business, but it doesn't mention companies or stores selling CBD oil as "essential business."
"That’s just ridiculous," Ochoa said. "You’re literally allowing a poison in your body over a medicine that can actually cure things and help people deal with pain and mental issues."
Adler said Austin health experts recommended keeping liquor stores open but not stores selling CBD.
"I guess what we're saying is that are critically needed or essentially needed for your life to go on," Adler said.
"But then CBD, they don't see as much of a medical benefit to people?" KVUE Defenders reporter Brad Streicher asked the mayor.
"Apparently not because it wasn't put on the list that way," Adler said.
What is an "Essential Business" in Austin, TX
Section 1 of the order states: "All persons may leave their residences only to perform certain Essential Activities, to perform work in or obtain services from an Essential Business, Essential Government Service, or in Critical Infrastructure, or to engage in Essential Travel or Minimum Basic Operations.."
Section 2 states non-essential business and operations must cease, expect for "Minimum Basic Operations". Both "minimum basic operations" and "essential business" are further defined in section 6 of the order.
The order does not ban people going outside and even states people can go outside and engage in health activities such as exercising, running etc.
Section 6(b)iii reads: "Individuals may engage in outdoor activity, such as, by way of example and without limitation, walking, hiking, bicycling, or running provided the individuals comply with Social Distancing Requirements"
Under the same subsection it even states that individuals may care for a family member or pet in another household.
So, its clear that you are not required to just sit as home and, to a degree, can move around the city as long as certain guidelines are followed.
Essential Business for Austin
Section 6(f) covers "Essential Businesses" as defined by the order. Healthcare, Grocery stores, supermarkets, big-box stores, farmers' markets, food banks, convenience stores, liquor stores and other establishments are listed under this subsection. Food cultivation, social services, charitable organizations, news media, gas stations and businesses related to transportation, financial institutions, hardware and supply stores, services such as plumbers, electricians, mail and delivery even laundry services are also listed.
Yes, Uber and like services are considered essential under the new order. Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food can remain in operation but only for delivery or carry out.
Hotels and motels, childcare and even moving services are considered essential for Austin, TX. See full list.
Social Distance in Austin, TX
Social Distancing Requirements include maintaining at least a six-foot distance from other individuals, washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands), regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces, and not shaking hands.
A violation is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000 and/or confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days.