What You Can And Can't Do Under Austin's Stay-At-Home Order

Mar 24, 2020

The City of Austin has issued an order that requires everyone (with some exceptions) to stay at home and requires many businesses to close in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.

So, what can’t you do?

Well, you have to stay at home – but there are a few exceptions. All public and private gatherings outside of a house are banned. All travel, unless for a few specific reasons, is banned.

The exceptions to leaving your home are somewhat broad:

  • For health and safety: going to the doctor, taking a pet to the veterinarian, etc.
  • For necessary supplies or services: getting groceries, getting work-from-home supplies, etc.
  • For outdoor activities: running, walking, bike riding or hiking – as long as you’re at least 6 feet from anyone else
  • To go to work: people who work at “essential businesses” (we’ll get to that), in government or critical infrastructure can go out
  • To care for someone else: traveling to another person’s home to care for them or a pet is allowed

OK, so what are the “essential businesses”? There are quite a few:

  • Health care providers, including doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and dentists
  • Grocery stores, food banks, liquor stores and big box stores.
  • Farm and livestock operations
  • Social services and charities
  • News media
  • Gas stations, auto repair shops, car dealerships
  • Banks, credit unions and insurance companies
  • Hardware and home improvement stores
  • Plumbers, electricians and pool cleaners
  • Mail and shipping services
  • Laundromats and dry cleaners
  • Restaurants (for takeout and delivery only)
  • Stores that sell work from home supplies
  • Food delivery services
  • Transportation services
  • Home care services for seniors, adults and children
  • Residential facilities and shelters
  • Legal, accounting and real estate services
  • IT services
  • Moving companies
  • Hotels and motels
  • Funeral services
  • Educational institutions, but only for facilitating distance learning or performing critical research.
  • Childcare services — but only groups of 10 or fewer that are the same group of kids from day to day.

Police, code enforcement and the fire marshal can enforce the order. Violators could face a fine of up to $1,000.