How Does the New City of Austin COVID Transmission Prevention Ordinance Apply to Communities?
As has been widely reported, the City of Austin enacted two ordinances yesterday that establish social distancing rules and COVID transmission protocol. The ordinances also give Austin Code the authority to identify noncompliant locations as a public health nuisance and their health department the power to request legal action against offending sites.
This ordinance is not a criminal ordinance but it provides for enforcement via a civil lawsuit in district court where a court to order could be issued to force compliance. Should anyone decided to ignore the courts order the city can seek sanctions in the form a fine. Fines up to $2,000 can be imposed for locations deemed to be a public health. Persons not wearing a face covering can also be deemed a health nuisance and fined.
Full legal analysis has not been done to examine all angles of the new ordinance. The AAA has asked Austin Code to give a webinar to apartment communities on how to comply with the ordinance and they intend to do so but only after they themselves have been briefed by the Austin Law Department.
As currently understood, the ordinance applies when 10 or more people are present at one time.
To the extent a property faces an issue with residents violating the order the suggestion is to perhaps use a cellphone and record a property employee asking the offending persons to comply with order. With this evidence it is not likely the city will take action against the property.
There are sanitation standards listed in the ordinance and properties should be mindful of those standards. For example, any property that has only hand dryers and no paper towels along with trash cans with manual lids in their common are bathrooms would be in violation of this ordinance.
A presentation from Austin Code about the standards and how to comply will be scheduled as soon as possible. In, the meantime to view the ordinance go to https://www.austintexas.gov/edims/document.cfm?id=342766