City of Austin rolls out new plan to safely bring back events

Texas is open, all of you. With Governor Greg Abbott recently revoking the mask mandate and spring breakers happily walking around the Lone Star State as they used to, the city of Austin takes no chances at large gatherings and offers new COVID-19-specific safety guidelines for bringing back indoor and outdoor events Outdoor area.

Effective immediately, the new specifications, outlined in a guide titled “Bringing Events Back: COVID-19 Safety Guide for Venues and Special Events in Austin-Travis County,” focus on health and safety recommendations for indoor venues as well as on new special events permit requirements for outdoor events.

The city notes that these new guidelines are intended to serve as a starting point for events to begin again, and they will be updated regularly as health conditions in the area change. The move towards more events was sparked by the fact that the area is “moving in the right direction,” according to Austin-Travis County’s Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott.

“We actually have a sense of normalcy as a reward for the hard work our community has done to protect one another through masking and sanitary practices. To do this, however, we must remain vigilant in protecting ourselves and our community. “He says.” When we see an increase in cases and hospitalizations, we have the flexibility to reconsider the scale of the event, change mitigation strategies, or cancel if necessary. “

The livelihood of the Austinites who work in the events and entertainment industries is undoubtedly at the forefront of the decision, with the city taking into account that the local convention industry grossed $ 587 million in 2019 alone. Likewise, South By Southwest had an estimated economic impact of $ 355 million in 2019, and nearly 1.3 million people visit Austin each year for festivals and outdoor events.

“The vast majority of Austin-Travis County’s events and venues are on-site and have a direct impact on the economy, community and culture of Austin,” the new guide reads. “Following COVID-19 and its unprecedented impact on the experience sector, the city’s event partners and general industry need more information in order to plan to safely resume operations.”

The guide’s safety guidelines for all Austin and Travis Counties venues and events state:

  • Provide a designated isolation room or area so anyone who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 during an event can be immediately isolated

  • Develop case notification plans to meet Austin Public Health’s contact tracing requirements and report positive cases to APH

  • Provide a trained security coordinator to ensure compliance with the venue’s COVID-19 health and safety plan and oversee its enforcement

Safety guidelines for indoor venues also include adherence to social removal measures (with no fewer than 10 key ways the guide provides) and improved cleaning and hygiene practices (including venues’ ability to require face coverings).

The same guidelines apply to all outdoor events. In addition, a COVID-19 health and safety plan is a new requirement and must be attached to all special event permit requests. Further information on the minimum requirements for safety and hygiene at outdoor events as well as additional instructions for all employees, suppliers and suppliers of food and beverages can be found in the guide.

Some municipal event facilities are also back in operation. The Austin Central Library will host private events and facility rentals beginning April 1, but on a limited basis and with reduced capacity. All events must be approved by local health authorities and comply with Austin-Travis County’s COVID-19 safety guidelines.

APH has given the Austin Convention Center permission to operate at 25 percent capacity and will increase that capacity limit as the number of vaccinations increases.

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department will continue to evaluate the reopening of park facilities, picnic areas, event buildings and venues according to the city’s COVID-19 guidelines.

“We know the pandemic is having an incredible economic impact on venues and special events, and has hurt consumer confidence,” said City Administrator Spencer Cronk. “The publication of these guidelines now shows cautious optimism for events based on the current health conditions of COVID-19.”

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