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Austin Implements New Social Distancing Rules To Combat COVID-19

 A line of shoppers waits to enter Costco in South Austin during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gabriel C. Pérez C. Pérez
A line of shoppers waits to enter Costco in South Austin during the coronavirus pandemic.

New rules went into effect in Austin on Saturday night to enforce social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The updated city rules require retail businesses like grocery stores, pharmacies and warehouses to maintain a 6-foot separation between “patrons in line queuing in front of and inside stores.”

“While the City is doing well minimizing close interactions, we must do more to reduce the number of people congregating closely at stores,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said in a press release.

The order also creates new guidelines for how to protect critical infrastructure, including energy, water and wastewater, as well as transportation, banking and telecommunication networks.

Under the rules,employees who work in or around critical infrastructure should not go into work if they:

  • Have symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as a cough, shortness of breath or sore throat;
  • Have a fever greater than 99.6 degrees;
  • In the last 14 days have had contact with someone who has a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 and did not have the appropriate personal protective equipment designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; is under investigation for COVID-19; or is ill with a respiratory illness; or 
  • Have traveled to an area considered a “hotspot” by the World Health Organization or CDC.

Austin Public Health is also asking employers in critical infrastructure sectors to check workers’ temperatures before they walk into work. The city suggests employees with a temperature above 99.6 degrees should be sent home.
These temperature recommendations are not currently required, but may soon be to battle the spread of COVID-19, according to APH.

Mose Buchele focuses on energy and environmental reporting at KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mosebuchele.
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