Photos show how Texas’s stay-home orders have emptied out Austin, a city known for its eclectic music scene, nightlife, and outdoor recreation

austin texas zilker park coronavirus stay home policyaustin texas zilker park coronavirus stay home policy

Although it’s closed, Austin’s Zilker Park wasn’t completely empty on a spring day amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


  • Mayor Steve Adler issued a stay-at-home order for the City of Austin from March 24 to May 8 to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also issued a state-wide stay-home order in April. 
  • People in Austin are required to stay in their homes aside from essential activities, such as going to the grocery store, pharmacy, essential workplaces, and exercising.
  • When leaving their homes, Austin residents over the age of 10 are required to wear face coverings.
  • From the safety of my step-dad’s car, I rode around Austin one afternoon in April 2020 to see what Austin looked like during the stay-at-home order.
  • Most of Austin’s hot spots, from Sixth Street to South Congress, were nearly empty, and some were boarded up.
  • Zilker Park was the only attraction I visited where several people were present, but even there, people seemed to be abiding by social distancing guidelines of staying six feet apart.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

But during the pandemic, this isn’t necessary, since all the bars have been forced to close, and most of the windows — once open to draw people in with sweet sounds of music — are all boarded up.

austin texas sixth street empty coronavirus stay home policy

Boarded up windows on Sixth Street on April 13, 2020.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Source: Austin-American Statesman

Sixth Street, which typically looks like a loose parade of partiers every weekend in the spring, looks like a ghost town during the pandemic.

austin texas sixth street empty coronavirus stay home policy

Sixth Street was nearly empty on April 13, 2020.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Source: KVUE

The Hope Campaign, an organization that works to combine creativity with causes, sent artists to paint murals over some of Austin’s boarded up bars.

austin texas sixth street empty coronavirus stay home policy

Boarded up windows on Sixth Street on April 13, 2020.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Source: Hope Campaign, KVUE

Many of these murals raise awareness of the pandemic and social distancing guidelines.

austin texas sixth street empty coronavirus stay home policy murals

Murals on Sixth Streer about the pandemic on April 13, 2020.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Source: Hope Campaign, KVUE

A lot of the murals have the same message — stay home now so we can party later.

austin texas sixth street empty coronavirus stay home policy murals

Murals on Sixth Street encourage people to stay home on April 13, 2020.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Source: Hope Campaign, KVUE

But not all the murals are obviously linked to the coronavirus.

austin texas sixth street empty coronavirus stay home policy

A night club called Vulcan Gas Company on April 13, 2020.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Some just bring more color to the neighborhood, which is normally vibrant.

austin texas sixth street empty coronavirus stay home policy

Boarded up windows on Sixth Street on April 13, 2020.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Six Austin Alamo Drafthouse Cinema locations closed on March 17 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including the Sixth Street location.

alamo ritz austin texas sixth street empty coronavirus stay home policy murals

Alamo Drafthouse on Sixth Street on April 13, 2020.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Source: Eater Austin

I didn’t see one other person on Rainey Street …

austin texas rainy street empty bar coronavirus stay home policy

Bars on Rainey Street were closed on April 13, 2020.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


… although some restaurants were open for take-out orders.

austin texas rainy street empty bar coronavirus stay home policy

Rainey Street on April 13, 2020.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


On the way to South Congress, Lady Bird Lake wasn’t packed to the edges with paddleboards and kayaks as it usually is in the spring.

austin texas lady bird lake empty coronavirus stay home policy

Lady Bird Lake during the pandemic on April 13, 2020.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife

All the non-essential stores on South Congress are closed to prevent the spread of the virus.

austin texas south congress coronavirus stay home policy

Closed businesses on South Congress on April 13, 2020.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Source: KVUE

Jo’s Coffee, an Austin staple that’s home to the famed “I love you so much” mural, is also open for take-out and delivery only.

austin texas south congress coronavirus stay home policy

Jo’s Coffee on April 13, 2020.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Source: Jo’s Coffee

One of the strangest things to see on South Congress was the empty parking lot at the 24-hour hotspot Magnolia Cafe. While this location is expected to reopen after the pandemic, the cafe announced the permanent closure of the original location in West Austin on Facebook on April 16. The post mentioned that lost business from the pandemic played a part in their closure.

magnolia cafe austin texas south congress coronavirus stay home policy

Magnolia Cafe on South Congress on April 13, 2020.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Source: Magnolia Cafe West/Facebook

… so much so that there’s another take-out location right next to it called More Home Slice. During the pandemic, Homeslice is only open for take-out and delivery.

austin texas south congress coronavirus stay home policy

More Homeslice on April 13, 2020.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Source: Homeslice

While some are accepting orders online, non-essential retail stores on South Congress, like Madewell, are also closed.

austin texas south congress coronavirus stay home policy

Madewell on South Congress on April 13, 2020.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Sources: Madewell, KUT

On the north end of Congress, the Texas State Capitol grounds were all-but bare, although an anti-lockdown protest took place there just days later. The event protested the stay-at-home order.

austin texas state capitol building empty  coronavirus stay home policy

The Texas State Capitol during the pandemic on April 13, 2020.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Source: Business Insider

Over in southwest Austin, Zilker Park, where Austin’s annual ACL Festival is held, is closed.

austin texas zilker park coronavirus stay home policy

Zilker Park was closed, including the disc golf course, on April 13, 2020.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Source: KVUE

The University of Texas campus in Austin is also closed, and classes are being conducted online.

austin texas UT co-op college campus coronavirus stay home policy

UT Austin during the pandemic on April 13, 2020.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Source: The University of Texas

Non-essential university stores are also closed, including the Co-op on Guadalupe Street. The Co-op is taking online orders.

austin texas UT co-op college campus coronavirus stay home policy

The University Co-op boarded up on April 13, 2020.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Source: University Co-op

Lastly, Franklin Barbecue, which is known for its legendary barbecue and hours-long lines, looked deserted during the pandemic, although the restaurant, like others, is open for take-out orders.

franklin barbecue carry-out austin texas coronavirus stay home policy

Franklin Barbecue during the pandemic on April 13, 2020.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Sources: Business Insider, Business Insider, Franklin Barbecue

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