Monday, August 30, 2021

Permitting for Special Events Updated with Enhanced Mitigation Strategies

Beginning Monday, Aug. 30, the Austin Center for Events (ACE) will require an enhanced version of the Health and Safety Form to be completed as part of the special event application process. This form presents organizers with several COVID-19 mitigation efforts to consider and allows for applicants to provide information on how they intend to implement them.  

While the current permitting process has been in effect since April of 2021, in collaboration with Austin Public Health (APH), additional identified measures are now included on the form to increase public safety as hospital resources have become strained during the latest COVID-19 surge. 

Enhanced mitigation criteria for permitting include: 

  • Screening at event entrances by requiring in-person attendees to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to the event.  

  • Developing strategies for maintaining at least 6 feet of social distancing. 

  • Including "mask zones" in outdoor event areas where social distancing is not possible. (Note: Masks are required at all times at any City of Austin or Travis County facility.)

For indoor events with 1,000+ attendees, and outdoor events with 2,500+, the submitted Health and Safety Form must be approved by APH. An APH staff member will review the forms and either approve plans or work with the organizer on strengthening mitigation efforts to hold a safe event for attendees and the community. 

"It goes without saying that we all recognize what incredibly challenging times we are in these days. Like many in our community, we are eager to plan and prepare for events," said Assistant Director of the Development Services Department Beth Culver. "The challenge is that we are in an ever-evolving situation. The Austin Center for Events and APH teams are committed to working with event organizers to provide as much information as available to help inform event planning efforts to keep our community safe." 

ACE and APH will continue to monitor the local situation regarding COVID-19 and consider various factors in the permit decision making process, including:   

  • The applicant's ability to provide sufficient safety, health, or portable sanitation equipment, services, or facilities that are reasonably necessary to ensure the event will be conducted with due regard for safety; and  

  • Whether or not the resources required to ensure public safety within the special event venue or impact area will prevent the police, fire, or emergency medical services departments from providing reasonable protections to the remainder of the City. 

The permit changes only apply to events that are required to obtain a Special Event Permit and do not cover activities at Q2 Stadium, Circuit of the Americas, and Moody Amphitheatre at Waterloo Greenway as these facilities do not fall under the Special Events Ordinance. Additionally, venues throughout town holding events may not require special events permits through ACE due to annual sound permits that are already in place with those private businesses. 

Event Guidance and COVID-19 Resources 

Information on the ACE Special Events Update website regarding the enhanced mitigation criteria for the COVID-19 Health & Safety Form, Event Reopening Guide and FAQs will be updated no later than Monday, Aug. 30. 

COVID-19 health and safety recommendations for indoor venues, musicians and artists can also be found in the Event Reopening Guide, and general business guidance is available at www.atxrecovers.com and www.atxmusic.org.  

For COVID-19 updates, testing, and vaccination information visit www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19

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