Enforcement of COVID-19 rules falls on three city departments

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Code Department, Austin Police Department and Austin Fire Marshal will all help enforce the new COVID-19 rules for the City of Austin.

It’s part of Austin’s latest effort in the fight against the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott could release those new rules Tuesday, following the approval of two ordinances.

Violation of the rules could result in a fine of up to $2,000. However, a person would have to repeatedly and intentionally violate the ordinance to get any type of fine, and a judge would determine how much of the $2,000 they pay.

City officials said people can call 3-1-1 to report people without masks, or even 911 to help remove someone from a business who won’t wear a mask and won’t leave. The larger enforcement will come against businesses and companies. The rules will make them enforce the mask ordinance.

If a company does not make its employees wear a mask, the city could shut them down and fine the company. Mayor Steve Adler says fines aren’t the goal. The goal is enforcement and education.

“I think it’s all hands on deck,” he said. “We’re all trying to make sure that we fight against this virus, but at the end of the day the way that we best enforce this is by individuals in our community setting an example and creating a culture of caution.”

The ordinance is set to expire on December 31. City leaders said this should give them time to evaluate the new changes. The date could be extended depending on the state of COVID-19 in the community.

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