City of Austin issues order requiring businesses to require face coverings

Austin Mayor Steve Adler
Photo credit Rick Kern/WireImage

AUSTIN ( -- The City of Austin is now requiring businesses to require their customers to wear a face covering.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler signed a supplemental order Wednesday evening, which goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. The order calls on "all commercial entities" that provide goods or services directly to the public to develop and implement a health and safety policy or plan related to COVID-19. That policy or plan must be in place on or before next Tuesday, June 23.

At a minimum, the order states, the policy or plan must require that all employees and visitors wear face coverings while on the commercial entity's business premises or other facilities, except in the following circumstances:

  • When the person is alone in a separate, single space, whether indoors or outdoors,
  • When the person is in the presence only of other members of the same household or residence, whether indoors or outdoors,
  • When doing so poses a greater mental or physical health, safety, or security risk,
  • When the person is outdoors engaged in an allowed activity while alone, or with only members of the same household or residence, or while maintaining a consistent separation of six feet or more from others and engaging in conduct allowed under Gov. Greg Abbott's statewide orders,
  • When the person is eating or drinking in a restaurant or bar.

The policy or plan must be posted in a conspicuous location sufficient to provide notice to employees and visitors.

Adler's supplemental order will continue through August 15, when the city's revised "Stay Home, Save Lives" orders issued earlier this week also expire.

The move comes after Bexar County enacted a similar order Wednesday morning, requiring businesses to enact a health and safety plan by Monday that must include the requirement for customers and employees to wear a face covering.

While individuals cannot face a civil or criminal penalty under the state's orders, Bexar County's order will impose a $1,000 fine on businesses that fail to comply.

In an interview Wednesday afternoon with KWTX-TV in Waco, Abbott indicated this was part of the state's plan all along. "Pursuant to my plan, local governments can require stores and businesses to require masks. That's what was authorized in my plan, that's what the Bexar County Judge has now realized, and so what Bexar County is doing and what every county is authorized to do - impose requirements on business operations," Abbott said.