The Health Authority Rules released on May 18, following updated CDC guidance, will be updated to serve as recommendations rather than requirements following GA 36, which prohibits governmental entities and public health authorities from requiring face coverings.
“We choose to focus our energy on fighting COVID in our community. We choose to focus on the health and safety of all of you, our residents,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority. “There is now more urgency to be vaccinated as protection measures will not be required.”
Recommendations for fully vaccinated individuals:
- Resume normal activities without wearing a mask, except when required by a business
- Resume domestic travel without testing and quarantine before or after travel
- Resume international travel without testing, unless required by the destination, and refrain from quarantine after arriving back in the United States
- Refrain from testing and quarantine following a known exposure, unless you develop symptoms
Those who are partially or unvaccinated are recommended to continue masking in most situations. An individual is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after completing the full course of their COVID-19 vaccination regimen; Pfizer and Moderna require two doses and Johnson & Johnson requires one dose.
“I am confident that the guidelines provided regarding the ongoing wearing of masks, particularly for unvaccinated individuals and partially vaccinated individuals, is based upon the current science and consistent with CDC guidance,” said Dr. Escott. “Masks still play an important role in further reducing the spread of COVID-19 and will remain a recommended practice for those who are not fully vaccinated, at least until we reach herd immunity.”
To reach herd immunity, Austin Public Health is aiming for 70% of the population to be fully vaccinated. Based on state data, Travis County is currently at 62.14% of those 12+ partially vaccinated and 49.42% fully vaccinated.
“While the pandemic is not over, the Austin-Travis County area is at a lower level of risk than the rest of the state because so many of you chose higher measures of protection to keep you, your family, and those around you safe from COVID,” Interim APH Director Adrienne Sturrup said. “We want our community to be COVID wise – getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, and maintaining social distancing provides the highest level of protection from COVID-19.”
The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are currently authorized for those aged 18 and up. The Pfizer vaccine is currently authorized for those aged 12 and up. Individuals can receive the Moderna vaccine through APH or find additional vaccine providers in your area at Vaccines.gov.
For COVID-19 information and updates, visit www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.