What Does the Mayor’s New Executive Order Mean for Your Business?

Earlier today, Austin Mayor Steve Adler announced a new executive order for workplace safety. To help business leaders understand the news, I interviewed Austin LGBT Chamber CEO Tina Cannon. 

Tina, what exactly does Mayor Adler’s executive order do? 

The order provides business a way to decide for themselves on what is best. It puts the power back in the hands of the business operators for them to determine what policies for employees and customers work for them. 

Why is this order important? 

Austin continues to have one of the highest COVID-19 community transmission rates in the state, and our hospitals are overwhelmed. In fact, last week 30 percent of those tested by regional health partners received positive COVID-19 test results. As such, Austin Public Health raised the area’s risk-based guidance to Stage 5 – the highest level.  In this spike, it’s important for all of us to follow local guidelines and take immediate action to protect ourselves and each other. 

Wow, stage 5! What are the specific public health guidelines? 

In response to the rapidly spreading Omicron variant, the city is recommending the following actions: 

  • If you’re fully vaccinated or boosted, wear well-fitting masks outside of your home. 
  • When possible, choose curbside or take out dining options. 
  • Limit in-person gatherings and travel. This guideline is especially important for partially or unvaccinated people. 

What do you say to business leaders about these guidelines? 

Getting the virus under control is the best way to ensure economic prosperity. Eighty-eight percent of U.S. consumers believe the COVID-19 outbreak is not fully contained. This notion is reflected in their purchasing behaviors. For example, spending at restaurants, gyms, movies, events and rideshares remains below pre-pandemic levels (source: LEK). And with the rapid spread of Omicron this statistic has the potential to drop even lower. Our business community must come together to keep Austin healthy and working. COVID testing for employees exposed to the virus or experiencing symptoms is important. Additionally, it’s vital to mask up. Let’s do all we can to keep each other healthy, reduce the risk of a perpetual cycle of outbreaks and lockdowns, and take simple steps to keep our strong economy growing! 

Are there any other items business leaders should consider? 

The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we do business. In order to remain competitive, Austin employers must adopt new working models (remote or hybrid); prioritize the health and happiness of employees; and embrace new technologies, processes, and cultural norms. Our chamber will be sharing more details on these trends through educational events this year. 

What resources are available for businesses struggling during the pandemic? 

The key is collaboration – only by working together will we come out better than before. The Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce and the City of Austin are committed to having a strong local economy in a manner that is safe, equitable, and prosperous for all. 
Here is a collection of key resources: 

Thanks for your time, Tina! As the CEO of a startup, it’s helpful to get this information in real-time. 

The “Protecting Customers and Employees and Preserving Adequate Workforce Capacity” order is intended to slow the local spread of COVID-19 and protect our economy and hospital systems. The order includes:

Read the full health and safety order online. Exhibit A and Exhibit B must be posted. Exhibit C does not need to be posted, but it’s included because it is an indicator for when the signs need be posted. This order is effective on January 17, 2022, at 12:00 p.m. Not posting Exhibits A and B is a violation of Austin City Code Section 2-6-24 and a criminal offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000, but not by confinement.