City Council approves new enforcement powers for COVID-19 requirements

COVID-19 News ,

AUSTIN ( - The Austin City Council gave unanimous approval Thursday to two new ordinances aimed at furthering enforcement of the state and city COVID-19 orders. Council held a special called meeting Thursday to receive a briefing from local health officials as well as to discuss the two new ordinances.

The first ordinance creates the framework to declare a site a nuisance if it doesn't meet criteria to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Under the ordinance, the city would be able to file a civil suit to require compliance.
The second ordinance allows the health authority to adopt certain rules to protect people from COVID-19. As proposed, violations of the ordinance would be punishable by a civil fine of up to $2,000, and the ordinance would remain in effect until December 31.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott weighed in on Austin's proposals Wednesday, sending a letter to Austin Mayor Steve Adler showing his support for them. "Taking steps to ensure compliance with these Orders, as the City is contemplating, is necessary to protect public health and safety and will reduce the spread of COVID-19," Abbott wrote. The letter made no mention of any additional business shutdown, including a 35-day shutdown that Adler has proposed, and Abbott has rejected that idea in past television interviews.