AUSTIN, Texas — The City of Austin has banned gatherings of 250 people or more until at least May 1, 2020 to help tackle the spread of COVID-19.

The order from Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt will take effect starting at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 15, according to a release from the City.

The ban includes public or private gatherings and defines community gatherings as “any indoor or outdoor event that is likely to bring together 250 or more people at the same time in a single room or other confined or enclosed space, such as an auditorium, theatre, stadium arena or event center, meeting hall, conference center, large cafeteria, restaurant, nightclub/bar or any other confined indoor or confined outdoor space.”

Potentially included in the ban are weddings, religious gatherings, parties, funerals, sporting events, social events and conferences, the city said.

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The prohibition does not cover office space or residential buildings, transit (including airports), bus stations or terminals, grocery stores, shopping malls or hospitals and medical offices and facilities. The city said this is because it is considered unusual for people in these circumstances to be within arm’s length of one another for extended periods.

“Collectively and individually, our decisions will determine how our health infrastructure can handle this virus,” said Adler. “This community must do all we can to minimize person-to-person passage. This new order and the voluntary choices being made all over our city are positioning Austin for the best possible outcome. We’re a city that sticks together and rises to the occasion and we’ll do it this time, too.”

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Along with the new ban on gatherings of 250 people or more, the Austin-Travis County Health Authority is recommending the community cancel, postpone or not attend events or community gatherings with more than 125 people.

The new orders will be enforced by police officers, City of Austin Code Department inspectors and the Office of the Austin Fire Marshall. Anyone found to violate the rules will face a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or jail of up to 180 days.

More information can be found on the city's website. Businesses with questions about the new orders are asked to call Austin 311.

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