Austin and Travis County Issue Updated “Stay Home – Work Safe” Orders

Austin and Travis County Issue Updated “Stay Home – Work Safe” Orders

Austin and Travis County Issue Updated “Stay Home – Work Safe” Orders


Austin — April 14, 2020  —  With the expiration of its original shelter-in-place order issued by the Mayor of the City of Austin in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city has issued its “Stay Home – Work Safe” order. The 12-page order, effective April 13, 2020 through May 8, 2020, includes four exhibits:

  • Exhibit A “Austin/Travis County Health Authority Requirements and Recommendations for Individuals, Families and Businesses;”
  • Exhibit B “Critical Infrastructure & Essential Services;”
  • Exhibit C “Face Covering Requirements;” and
  • Exhibit D “Construction Requirements.”

The updated order continues with a number of restrictions placed on individuals, with everyone generally being subject to an order, with multiple exceptions, “to stay at home or their place of residence” and to practice social distancing and—newly added—to wear some form of face covering (e.g., mask, scarf, bandanna, etc.).

Further, “[a]ll businesses or operations with facilities in the City of Austin, except Essential Businesses, Essential Government Service or Critical Infrastructure are required to cease all activities within the City…,” although certain basic activities may continue (e.g., maintain value of inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, facilitation of working remotely, etc.). “All Essential Businesses, Essential Government Services, and Critical Infrastructure are strongly encouraged to remain open….” The list of what comprises “Critical Infrastructure” is expansive. While defined generally as “all public and private facilities and assets … and other functions and sectors vital to the security, governance, public health, safety, and economic sustainability of the City of Austin,” it also specifically includes “Construction, including residential and building commercial construction.” Thus, construction appears to be exempt from the orders to cease operations, though there are specific requirements that must be followed in continuing to operate.

As a general matter, “[a]ll employers, employees and clients of Essential Government Service[s], Critical Infrastructure and Essential Business[es] shall comply to the greatest extent feasible with Social Distancing and Face Covering Requirements and Recommendations” as described in the order. As it specifically relates to construction, for each project, the person in charge of the site—the “Site Manager”—shall ensure that city requirements are implemented and maintained. Generally, this person will be associated with the general contractor, but where a site does not have general contractor each trade contractor will be obligated to ensure such implementation and maintenance. Among the requirements:

  • Designate an on-site “COVID-19 Safety Monitor,” whose information must be available to the city, who has the authority to enforce the city’s requirements (this person may also be the “Site Manager”)
  • Post city-required signage (when made available)
  • For sites with more than 10 active workers: (1) stagger shifts and (2) post “a notice showing the sizes and types of shift crews working there, and directions on how the Site Manager is limiting crew sizes and rotating shifts”
  • Have on-site at least one handwashing station and one portable restroom for every 15 workers, each with soap or hand sanitizer
  • Prohibit community water coolers and provide individual water bottles or have workers bring their own, provide single-use paper towels and no-touch trash receptacles, and disinfect shared tools, common areas, and collective touch points
  • Conduct a daily pre-work prescreening of the health of each worker, a personal protective equipment check, and a briefing reiterating COVID-19 safety requirements
  • Workers must adhere to social distancing and face covering requirements
  • Mandate hand-washing frequency and duration

With respect to recordkeeping, “[t]he Site Manager shall ensure that every worker who enters a jobsite has signed in and shall keep a list of and contact information for every worker that enters the jobsite every day….” If a worker is confirmed to have COVID-19, “the Site Manager shall immediately send the worker home, notify Austin Public Health, and follow all directions from Austin Public Health concerning that worker and workers that may have come in contact with the infected worker.” An individual who is permitted to work should not report to work when he or she has the signs or symptoms of COVID-19, has a fever, or “[i]n the previous 14 days has had contact with someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 and did not have the appropriate personal protective equipment designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); is under investigation for COVID-19; or is ill with a respiratory illness.”

A violation remains a criminal offense, but the City of Austin Development Services Department has informed stakeholders that its inspectors “will not be issuing citations, [but] they will be monitoring sites for compliance and supporting educational efforts to ensure worker safety.” A project’s “Site Manager” and “Safety Monitor” will be the key contacts “to ensure all workers are following the City’s Safe Distancing and Face Covering Requirements and following all necessary hygiene practices.” As noted in the order: “[E]nforcement of this Order is substantially reliant on self-regulation and a community commitment to public health and safety under the novel threat of COVID-19.”

Travis County has issued a similar updated order, though without the construction-specific requirements. While construction may continue, there remain a number of other requirements of general applicability, including social distancing and face covering.

For more information, please contact Carson Fisk.


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Founded in 1990, with offices in Houston and Austin, Andrews Myers, Attorneys at Law, is a corporate law firm and recognized market leader in Texas construction law.  The firm focuses on the concentrated disciplines of commercial litigation, construction, commercial real estate, corporate and business transactions, with additional emphasis on related issues including bankruptcy and insolvency, energy, employment and capital formation. A seasoned team of attorneys provides timely and cost-effective solutions to the most complex problems facing entrepreneurs and middle-market industry leaders throughout the state and the nation. For more information please visit

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