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COVID-19: City Order Social Distancing Requirement for Essential Businesses

Critical infrastructure employers encouraged to implement more safeguards

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Austin Mayor Steve Adler has signed an updated order requiring retail establishments, such as grocery stores, pharmacies and warehouse stores, to establish controls to require social distancing, which requires a 6 foot separation between patrons in line queuing in front of and inside stores.

According to the Order, “Controls may include, but are not limited to, requiring each person to take a shopping cart or placing markers on the floor.” The goal is to keep people from being too close together.

The new Order, which went effect at 7 PM. on SATURDAY, MARCH 21, 2020, also includes guidance for critical infrastructure to ensure there are safeguards to protect the integrity of the community’s public health and safety.

View the City of Austin’s Order HERE.

“While the City is doing well minimizing close interactions, we must do more to reduce the number of people congregating closely at stores,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. “This new City Order issued tonight requires this, and adds requirements for certain critical infrastructure to help ensure they are able to maintain operations. Let’s stay focused on physical separation, and do our part to flatten the curve.”

Austin Public Health is strongly encouraging critical infrastructure employers to institute non-invasive temperature checks for staff prior to entering a critical infrastructure facility. If an employee has a temperature above 99.6° F, they should be sent home.

Critical infrastructure includes, but is not limited to, all public and private facilities and assets, such as our community’s energy, water, wastewater, transportation, banking and telecommunication networks.

The Order states:

Employees who work in and around critical infrastructure should refrain from reporting to work when falling within any of the following criteria:

  • Has signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as a cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat;
  • Has a fever greater than 99.6°F;
  • In 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; or
  • Has traveled to an area the World Health Organization or CDC considers a “hotspot”.

If the employee meets any of the criteria listed above, the employer should direct the employee to return home.

While the new Order only recommends temperature screenings, the Health Authority says there could be future requirements.

Source: Press release

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september 2020

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