AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin-Travis County Stay Home, Work Safe orders are expected to expire on Friday, May 8, but local leaders intend to extend that.
However, the statewide stay-at-home order expired last Thursday, April 30, and according to Gov. Greg Abbott, local orders can't supersede state orders.
So how do local leaders plan to make this happen?
Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said they can do this as long as they write orders that align with Gov. Abbott's orders to reopen businesses. They will also not create any penalties against individuals who disobey the stay-at-home order.
"The governor's order didn't say we couldn't make it mandatory. It said we couldn't have a criminal or civil penalty," Mayor Adler said on Facebook on Monday, May 4.
Adler did point out the current statewide executive order still puts social distancing restrictions in place.
The governor's order, number 18, states, in part, "every person in Texas shall, except where necessary to provide or obtain essential services or reopened services, minimize social gatherings and minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household."
Mayor Adler added that while the governor's order removes a municipality's ability to enforce face coverings to be worn in public with civil or criminal penalties, he cannot bring himself to reverse his order making these coverings mandatory.
"The penalty for not wearing a face covering now is some people are going to get infected and some of those people are going to die," Adler said. "That's the penalty that should have more weight really than anything else."
Local health leaders applauded the public's ability to flatten the curve, but without restrictions in place, Adler and Eckhardt worry Central Texas areas could see a second spike.
"I'm a little concerned about this past weekend. I think people think we can go back to the way we were before and that's not true," Adler said.
Austin leaders are expected to make these orders official soon.
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