Friday, March 19, 2021

City of Austin Launches Plan To Bring Events Back Safely


City of Austin Launches Plan To Bring Events Back Safely

Austin Center for Events Publishes 'Bringing Events Back: Austin-Travis County COVID-19 Safety Guide for Venues & Special Events'

Effective today, the City of Austin is launching new guidelines to enable events begin to reopening safely. "Bringing Events Back: Austin-Travis County COVID-19 Safety Guide for Venues & Special Events" outlines COVID-19 health and safety recommendations for indoor venues, and new outdoor special event permit requirements for Austin Center for Events. These guidelines are a starting point for events to begin to happen again, and will be updated regularly as health conditions change.
 
"Austin Public Health reviewed key indicators which have been moving in the right direction," said Dr. Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority. "We actually have a glimpse of normalcy as a reward of the hard work our community has done to protect each other with masking and hygiene practices but to make this a reality, we have to stay vigilant in the protection of ourselves and our community. If we see a surge in cases and hospitalizations, we have the flexibility to reconsider the scale of the event, modify the mitigation strategies, or cancel if needed."
 
Since April 2020, the Austin Center for Events, in conjunction with Austin Public Health, have been working to develop an event reopening strategy which includes COVID-19 health and safety standards. The strategy includes guidelines and permit requirements which create a pathway for special events organizers to attain permits for their events. Feedback on these guidelines has been incorporated from event industry leaders.
 
Indoor Guidelines: Outline recommendations for venues with permanent occupancy designed to establish a minimum standard for COVID-19 health and safety.
 
Outdoor Guidelines: Outline recommendations for outdoor events and venues that require a permit from Austin Center for Events. There is also a new permit requirement. As allowed by City Code Chapter 4-20 (Special Events), special event applicants will now be required to submit a COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan as part of the special event application through a new on-line form. All aspects of the application will remain digital.
 
"We understand the pandemic has caused incredible economic impacts on venues and special events and affected consumer confidence," said City Manager Spencer Cronk. "Releasing these guidelines now indicates cautious optimism for events based on the current COVID-19 health conditions."
 
The special event industry has asked the City for these guidelines, and they were developed in partnership with City and County public safety agencies including Austin Public Health and Austin Center for Events and with Austin's event industry leaders.
 
Event organizers can reference www.austintexas.gov/eventreopeningguide for a link to the guidance, review FAQs and register for virtual office hours to get outstanding questions answered.
 
City-Owned Event Facilities:
 
Austin Public Health is also working closely with City of Austin departments that have event facilities. Each department is operating on an independent reopening schedule.
  • Austin Public Library Department has announced The Austin Central Library will begin hosting private events and facility rentals beginning April 1, 2021 on a limited basis and at a reduced capacity. All events must receive approval by local health authorities and adhere to Austin–Travis County COVID-19 safety guidelines. More information is located at the rental page
     
  • Austin Convention Center Department has been given authorization by Austin Public Health to operate at 25% capacity and is expecting percentages to rise as the number of vaccinations increase. For more information visit Austin Convention Center or Palmer Events Center sites.
     
  • The Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) continues to evaluate re-opening PARD facilities according to the City of Austin's COVID-19 Risk Based Guidelines and in consultation with public health authorities. The reopening of picnic sites, event buildings, or special event sites will occur as conditions allow and in consideration of the reopening guidelines for specific sites. For more information on current PARD facility operations, visit austintexas.gov/parkclosures.
     
About Austin Public Health
Austin Public Health is the health department for the City of Austin and Travis County. Austin Public Health works to prevent disease, promote health, and protect the well-being of all by monitoring and preventing infectious diseases and environmental threats, and educating about the benefits of preventative behaviors to avoid chronic diseases and improve health outcomes.
 
About Austin Center for Events
The Austin Center for Events is a collaborative assembly of City of Austin departments and agencies designed to streamline special event permitting on public and private property. ACE is anchored by teams from Austin Public Health, Transportation, Parks, Music, Police, Fire, EMS, Code, Austin Resource Recovery, Development Services, and partner agencies, and works closely with event organizers to guide them through the special event permitting process.

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