Masks are required at all Austin businesses starting Thursday, June 18 at midnight. Mayor Steve Adler issued the order yesterday after Texas Governor Greg Abbott approved a similar order from Bexar County.
From now until August 5, Austin businesses – including all retail stores and restaurants – must require all customers and employees to wear fabric coverings.
“Any commercial establishment in the city of Austin that provides goods or services directly to the public must develop and implement a health and safety policy or plan related to COVID-19. The health and safety policy or health policy and safety plan must at least all require employees and visitors to wear face covers on company premises or in other facilities, “says Adler.
The exceptions to this rule are when you are alone; when you are with members of your own family / household; when exercising outdoors, at least three feet away from other people; or when wearing a mask represents greater mental or physical health, safety, or security.
Masks have been a controversial issue since early May when the Texas Attorney General issued a letter to cities across the state – including Austin – alleging that cities and counties could not impose civil or criminal sanctions if they weren’t in public Wear mask. (At this point, the city and Travis County had publicly requested masks; the state suggested masks but did not require them.)
On June 17, Bexar District Judge Nelson Wolff issued an order that San Antonio businesses must require masks. In return, Abbott said he would not disrupt Wolff’s orders, paving the way for cities like Austin to enact similar rules.
Studies continue to show that face masks are among the best tools to help stop the spread of COVID-19. In a recent study by Texas A&M, researchers found that using a face mask prevented 66,000 infections in just over a month in New York City.
“We conclude that wearing a face mask in public is the most effective way of preventing transmission between people,” said Renyi Zhang, a distinguished Texas A&M professor and a co-author of the study.
Austin’s new mask orders are coming as COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the state. In the capital region, almost 5,000 people were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, in which 108 people died.