On March 17, 2020, the City of Austin issued an order concerning community gatherings, effectively limiting the number of people that can be in any one room at a given time in an effort to combat the COVID-19 virus. The restrictions on community gatherings take effect at 12 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, and will continue until at least May 1, 2020.

The Order prohibits the following gatherings:

  • Any indoor or outdoor event that brings together or is likely to bring together 10 or more people in a single room or space. This applies to any gathering for any reason, including social, religious, or otherwise unless the gathering meets one of the exceptions below.
  • Food establishments and bars are ordered to close common dining areas open to the public but are encouraged to provide take-away or no-contact delivery food service.

Exceptions to the prohibitions:

  • Gatherings of people in multiple, separate enclosed spaces (including separate cubicles) in a single building such as different floors of a multi-level office so long as 10 people are not present in any single space at the same time. This means that an open concept office with walled off cubicles are exempt; however, open concept offices without such protections cannot have more than 10 people at any given time.
  • Use of enclosed spaces where 10 or more people may be present at different times of the day, so long as 10 or more people are not present in the space at the same time. This exception does allow an employer with an open-concept office to alternate who comes into the office by shift or day, if the employer so chooses.
  • The order does not apply to certain critical facilities, including airport and transit facilities, schools, grocery stores, pharmacies, hospital and medical offices and facilities.

Penalty:

  • Violation of the order is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or confinement in jail not to exceed 180 days.

In addition to the above, Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order, effective March 20 through April 3, also prohibited social gatherings that have more than 10 people.
Wittliff Cutter is continuing to monitor local, state, and national laws during this public health crisis. Please reach out to our firm if we can answer questions or help work through any issues.