The City of Austin, Travis County and Williamson counties have all issued an official “Shelter in Place” order, on Tuesday at 11:59 pm, requiring all area residents to stay at home during the COVID-19 crisis affecting area. The order is expected to remain in place through April 13th.
Many businesses have been forced to close due to this mandate in order to stop the spread of the virus. Day-to-day activities like shopping for food, groceries and home supplies, as well as activities outdoors like exercising (while maintaining social distancing guidelines) are all permitted during the crisis.
Many are wondering what classifies as an “Essential Business” operation and if it applies to their job. Most employers have already been notified of their classification and are taking appropriate actions to inform their employees. Most Austinties will be working from home, but there are several exceptions granted to people that perform essential jobs and services that are critical to Austin’s infrastructure.
Those deemed as an Essential Business or Service are as follow:
- Restaurants (for takeout and delivery only)
- Grocery stores, food banks, liquor stores and big box stores.
- Food delivery services
- Transportation services
- Hotels and Home Sharing services
- Hardware and home improvement stores
- Office Supply Stores and big box retailers
- Police, Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services personnel emergency management personnel and emergency dispatchers
- Banks, credit unions and Insurance agencies
- Farms, ranch and livestock operators
- Health care providers, including doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and dentists
- Gas stations & convenient stores
- Auto repair shops, car dealerships
- Mail and shipping services
- Social services agencies
- News media agencies
- Plumbers, electricians and pool cleaners
- Laundromats and dry cleaners
- Home care services for seniors, adults and children
- Residential facilities and shelters
- Legal, accounting and real estate services
- IT services
- Moving companies
- Funeral services
- Childcare services — but only groups of 10 or fewer that are the same group of kids from day to day.
Restaurants and services that prepare and serve food are permitted to remain open, but only for delivery or carryout. Schools and charities that typically provide free food services to the public may continue to do so on a pick-up and takeout format only.
Those found in violation of breaking the shelter in place mandate could fave a fine of up to $1000, enforced by local police and fire marshal.
For more information on what qualifies as Essential Businesses, services, the Work Safe order and other frequently asked questions regarding the COVID-19 crisis, visit austintexas.gov.