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Now Can Builders In Austin Keep Building?

Construction workers work on a building in Austin last week.
Julia Reihs
Construction workers work on a building near 11th Street and the I-35 frontage road last week.

When Austin Mayor Steve Adler issued a stay-at-home order last week, he laid out the “essential” businesses and activities that could still be done — as long as people maintained proper physical distance from each other. But there was confusion about whether construction projects could continue.

The city eventually clarified that most projects had to shut down — but there was a list of exceptions. Later, the city said builders would need to apply for one of those exceptions, which would be decided by a panel of city officials.

But when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced his please-stay-at-home-but-don’t-call-it-a-stay-at-home order on Tuesday, Austin’s plans went out the window.

There is little ambiguity about Abbott’s order, which supersedes the city’s in some ways: It makes clear that all construction is considered essential — whether it’s a new hospital or new luxury condos.

"The Governor’s Order trumps the city and allows construction to proceed," Adler said in an emailed statement. "We’ll continue to enforce the non-conflicting parts of the City Order to mitigate the risk for workers, their families, and the city at-large."

While projects can continue to move forward, workers and their supervisors must still keep at least 6 feet between workers, allow sick workers to go home and have handwashing and/or hand sanitizer available. The city says Code Enforcement will be monitoring construction sites to make sure they’re following those rules.

Got a tip? Email Matt Largey at Follow him on Twitter @mattlargey.

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Matt Largey is the Projects Editor at KUT. That means doing a little bit of everything: editing reporters, producing podcasts, reporting, training, producing live events and always being on the lookout for things that make his ears perk up. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mattlargey.
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