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Texas mayor forces grocery stores to go the extra step for social distancing

COVID-19 grocery store (Getty Images)

AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas city took another step in its social distancing measures Saturday night, March 21 to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

City of Austin Mayor Steve Adler signed an updated order requiring grocery stores, pharmacies, and warehouse stores, to establish controls for social distancing. The order requires a six foot separation between people in line whether they are in front of or inside of the store.

The order took effect Saturday, March 21 at 7 p.m.

“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.”

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.

There were 62 confirmed cases in Travis County as of Saturday night, according to Austin Public Health.

APH asked critical infrastructure employers to check employees temperatures before each shift. 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 the 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”.
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