City of Austin calls for increased COVID-19 containment measures for special event permits

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The additional measures build on the approval process that has been running since April.

AUSTIN, Texas – In response to the continued rise in COVID-19, the Austin Center for Events (ACE) is updating its special event approval process to include increased containment efforts.

The city said that starting Monday, August 30th, ACE will have to fill out an expanded version of the health and safety form as part of the approval process. The additional mitigation measures identified in the updated form build on the approval process that has been running since April.

The advanced mitigation criteria for approval include:

  • Screening at event entrances by asking personal attendees to demonstrate a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the event

  • Develop strategies to maintain at least two meters of social distance

  • Including “mask zones” in outdoor event areas where social distancing is not possible

The city said that for indoor events with 1,000 or more attendees and outdoor events with 2,500 or more attendees, the submitted health and safety form must be approved by Austin Public Health. An APH employee reviews the forms and either approves plans or works with the organizer to reinforce mitigation measures.

“It goes without saying that we all know what incredibly challenging times we are in today. Like many in our community, we are dedicated to planning and preparing events, ”said Beth Culver, assistant director of development services. “The challenge is that we are in a constantly evolving situation.”

The city said ACE and APH will continue to monitor the local COVID-19 situation and consider various factors when deciding on approval, including the applicant’s ability to provide adequate safety, health or portable plumbing equipment, services or facilities and whether or not. The resources needed to maintain public safety at the special event will prevent emergency services from adequately protecting the rest of the city.

These approval changes only apply to events that require special approval. They do not apply to events at the Q2 Stadium, Circuit of the Americas or the Moody Amphitheater on Waterloo Greenway. Venues across the city hosting events may not require special event permits from ACE due to the annual sound permits these companies already have.

During a question-and-answer session with the media on Friday, Adrienne Sturrup, interim director of APH, said that APH is in constant contact with organizers on best security practices for non-city events.

Sturrup says that for events outside of the Austin City umbrella, they are in constant communication with them about best safety practices.

– Molly Oak (@MollyAndAMic) August 27, 2021

When asked why some events were canceled – like the Bat Fest scheduled for this weekend – the Austin-Travis County Health Department said decisions are being made to avoid additional problems for local hospitals.

“We don’t want to choose between an event and an available bed in the intensive care unit,” said Dr. Desmar Walkes.

When asked about the status of the Austin City Limits Music Festival, which is slated to bring hundreds of thousands of people to Zilker Park in October, Walkes didn’t answer directly. However, she said health officials continue to work with community partners and have voluntarily postponed many events to ease the burden on health workers and the hospital system.

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