AUSTIN (KXAN) — Small business owners needing masks for their employees can pick them up next week at a free giveaway from the City of Austin.
The city’s Economic Development Department will give away 96,000 masks at two facilities on Jan. 19. The drive-thru distributions are intended for local small businesses and organizations, the city specified.
The giveaways will happen from 1 to 4 p.m. (or until supplies last) at the following facilities:
- City of Austin African-American Cultural & Heritage Facility, 912 E. 11th Street — mask distribution will happen at the rear of the building on Juniper Street.
- City of Austin Economic Development Department Offices, 5202 E. Ben White Blvd. — mask distribution will happen on Memory Lane near Suite 550.
Drivers should remain in their cars with their trunk open when they get to the pickup sites, the city said. City staff members will then place boxes with masks in the trunk.
Later this month, Austin Public Health will hold an event to give away free personal protective equipment, like masks and hand sanitizer, to people who need it. They can pick up bags filled with PPE at the Gus García Recreation Center, 1201 E. Rundberg Lane, on Jan. 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. APH will update this website when it schedules other similar giveaways.
APH is working to expand resources available to the community to deal with a surge in local COVID-19 infections driven by the more infectious omicron variant. The city and county opened a second isolation facility this week for people needing a safe place to go due to COVID-19, and it’s already almost reached capacity. During a briefing Friday, APH explained it’s striving to ramp up COVID-19 testing capacity due to the demand for free testing exploding right now.
New COVID-19 orders specifically for businesses also came out this week from Austin and Travis County leaders. The only enforceable requirement set forward by the orders, which are called the “protecting customers and employees and preserving adequate workforce capacity orders,” is that businesses will have to post COVID-19 signage. Failure to do so could result in fines.
Gov. Greg Abbott’s office released a statement on these new business orders, saying they’re preempted by his executive orders signed last year and do not need to be followed.