Large community gatherings prohibited in Austin to stop coronavirus spread

Hannah Williford and Lauren Grobe

Editor’s note: This story is part of The Daily Texan’s coverage of how coronavirus concerns are affecting UT-Austin. Read the rest of our coverage here.

Gatherings of 250 or more people are prohibited in Travis County until May to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Mayor Steve Adler ordered on Saturday.

The order, effective Sunday,  prohibits indoor or outdoor events where many people are in a single, enclosed space, such as weddings, concerts, conventions, sporting events and religious gatherings, according to a press release from the City of Austin. 

The order does not apply to offices, residential buildings, medical facilities, retail facilities or transit because people are not usually within arm’s length in these spaces, according to the order. 

“Collectively and individually, our decisions will determine how our health infrastructure can handle this virus,” Adler said in the press release. “This community must do all we can to minimize person-to-person passage.”

The order was based on recommendations from Austin Public Health to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as the virus is spread from person-to-person contact, according to the press release.

The order further recommends that sick and vulnerable populations stay home and that schools practice social distancing policies.

President Donald Trump recommended avoiding gathering in groups of more than 10 people and engaging in school from home when possible during a press conference Monday afternoon.

“It’s important for the young and healthy people to understand that while they may experience milder symptoms, they can easily spread this virus and they will spread it indeed,” Trump said.

Trump also recommended avoiding discretionary travel or going out to eat or drink in order to help slow the spread.

“If you are sick, no matter who you are, please stay home,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator. “If someone in your household is diagnosed with this virus, the entire household should quarantine in the house to prevent spread of the virus to others.”

This story has been updated to include President Trump's press conference.