TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A Travis County judge on Wednesday announced extended eviction protections for renters through March 1, 2022, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A release from Travis County said Judge Nick Chu, Travis County Justice of the Peace, Pct. 5, issued the order, which requires eviction trials for unpaid rent to be paused for 30 days, so renters have time to get funding help, consult a pro bono attorney and/or negotiate a settlement, without the need for an eviction.

“The judges are doing what we can to make sure that our community is protected the best we can,” Chu said.

The order goes through March 1, because that’s the day justice of the peace courts lose the ability to change rules and procedures under a Texas Supreme Court emergency order.

Chu said it was important to extend these protections because of the prevalence of the omicron variant as well as Austin-Travis County’s official move to Stage 4 of its risk-based guidelines Wednesday.

“That kind of signaled to us the need to continue some of these eviction protections as we face another public health crisis,” Chu said.

Chu issued the state’s first eviction protection order on March 13, 2020, according to the county, before the Texas Supreme Court acted nearly a week later.

“A lot of times, we hear about JP courts, we think about small claims courts or things like that, but really, with JP courts in particular during this pandemic, it just kind of highlighted the importance of our local judiciary and their involvement in trying to prevent this pandemic from becoming worse than what it is already,” Chu said.

If you’re facing eviction, Chu recommends reaching out to Volunteer Legal Services or other legal service providers to apply for help.

Below are links to rental assistance programs in the area and state.