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Special Events Updates: Covid-19

COVID-19 Updates - August 7, 2020

Reopening Guidance for Austin Music Venues Released to Support COVID-19 Recovery Planning

AUSTIN, TX - In partnership with the City of Austin, the Austin cohort of the Reopening Every Venue Safely (REVS) campaign has released best practices to help music venues reopen safely.  

This music venue best practices guide was developed by local industry representatives with input from local leaders about steps the Austin music venue community should consider taking during the COVID-19 pandemic. This guide is not advocating reopening venues at this time. Instead, this living document is the first step in a longer process and is intended to give venue owners and operators time to digest the information, make informed decisions, and enter into a dialogue with artists, staff, guests and the City before safe reopening occurs. 

The Reopening Every Venue Safely Austin Best Practices Guide outlines practical actions venue owners and operators can undertake when they decide it is time to reopen safely. The guide includes best practices for what artists, venue operators, and production staff should consider prior to, during, and after a show for tasks such as how to manage gear, a notification system in the event of positive cases, and ways to manage crowds safely.  

“We partnered with local music industry colleagues and got input from the City to create best practices for when music venues can reopen. We expect this document to evolve as the situation changes with COVID-19,” says Don Pitts with Music Cities Together. 

Austin-Travis County remains in Stage 4 of the COVID-19 risk stages.  ICU hospitalizations and ventilator access remain a concern, and there is continued risk for further shutdowns if personal safety precautions are not taken. At the moment, Austin Public Health (APH) officials are warning the public that large gatherings at live events and even smaller family gatherings pose a high risk of spreading the virus. Austin-Travis County residents are strongly urged to continue to stay home when possible, wear face coverings, and practice social distancing.  

While the City and County continues to manage the immediate health crisis, the community must simultaneously plan for what reopening safely will look like when it is time to do so.  

“We are working closely with our colleagues and partners in the industry to ensure understanding of the state and local Orders, and right now it is best to stay home and take safety precautions. We are also considering what reopening will look like and planning for the future of live events in the Live Music Capital,” says Sara Henry with Austin Center for Events.

The City, County and local industry leaders working together is key to understanding the future of live music and the special events industry in Austin, Texas.

“The situation for Austin music venues is daunting. We’ve seen a study that shows as many as 90% of local music venues could close permanently by October,” says Bobby Garza with Music Cities Together. “We know we can’t reopen right now, but we need to be prepared for the new normal when reopening happens. The REVS guide is intended to help our industry plan for what that looks like.”  

The City of Austin is also developing Event Reopening Guidelines for the broader event and venue industry in partnership with APH, Austin Convention Center, Austin Center for Events and others. These guidelines will include both best practice recommendations and new COVID-19 health and safety plan requirements for event and venue operators of all types. Industry professionals can expect to see these new guidelines and requirements within the next month.  

Further resources for the creative sector economy include a series of available grants. COVID-19 relief funding opportunities, including the new Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund Reopening, can be found at www.atxrecovers.com.  A total of $6 million has been dedicated to COVID-19 creative sector recovery including $3.5 million from the CARES Act, $1.5 million from general fund emergency reserve, and $1 million from Creative Space Assistance Program. 

About Austin Center for Events (ACE) 
ACE is a collaborative assembly of agencies designed to streamline special event permitting on public and private property. ACE is anchored by teams from Transportation, Parks, Music, Police, Fire, EMS, Code, Waste Management, Development Services and partner agencies, and works closely with event organizers to guide them through the permitting process. More details: www.austintexas.gov/ace  

About Music & Entertainment Division, Economic Development  
The City of Austin Economic Development Department’s Music & Entertainment Division is highly engaged in developing initiatives that help accelerate the growth of the music industry infrastructure by focusing on job creation, talent export, trade development, and industry revenue growth. More details: www.atxmusic.org

About Music Cities Together 
Music Cities Together (MCT) is a joint initiative between Music Policy Forum and Sound Music Cities focusing on how collaboration between public, private, philanthropic, non-profit and educational sectors can lead to stronger and healthier local music communities. 

About Reopening Every Venue Safely (REVS) 
REVS is MCT's national campaign to develop and disseminate best practices and action plans for the safe and judicious reopening of music venues in the wake of COVID-19. Nationally, there are 11 partner cities currently participating in REVS: Albuquerque, NM; Austin, TX; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Cleveland, OH; Denver, CO; King County/Seattle, WA; Los Angeles, CA; Louisville, KY; New Orleans, LA; and Portland, OR. More details: www.musiccitiestogether.org/revs

COVID-19 Updates July 17, 2020

The Austin Center of Events has issued guidance to help businesses and events organizers navigate emergency COVID-19 rules safely. 

As cases are nearing 17,000 this week and 10 deaths recorded in just three days, the Health Authority adopted emergency rules that impose requirements on individuals and sites to reduce exposure to COVID-19.  The rules are in effect from July 14 through Nov. 12, 2020. These rules do not change the landscape of what people are allowed to do for events. They do mandate health protocol items including requiring face coverings, social distancing, and sanitation measures.   

One of the items reiterated in these rules is Section 2.2. “No more than ten individuals may stand or gather together.” This means an individual cannot stand or gather with more than 10 people outside of their household. 

Except with some exemptions, outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited under current Austin-Travis County Orders until Aug. 15.  

Businesses are still able to operate at 50% occupancy inside their venues and with no more than 10 people outside with certain exceptions to the occupancy limits. 

The City of Austin regularly updates the Direction of Businesses, Industries and Job Types chart to help businesses understand the latest Orders and impacts.  

The Austin Center for Events (ACE) has been working with event organizers over the past few months to determine the most safe and best path forward. With the future still unknown, ACE will update stakeholders as developments occur. 

Austin Public Health is encouraging everyone to do everything they possibly can to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, especially since Austin-Travis County is experiencing widespread transmission and an increase in hospitalizations. This includes avoiding gathering with individuals outside of your household, wearing face coverings when you have to go out, maintaining social distancing, and practicing proper hygiene.   

 

 

Permissible Outdoor Occupancy Exceptions 
All of these exceptions do require COVID-19 health and safety protocols including face coverings, social distancing and more as outlined on the latest Emergency Orders issued by the Mayor and Governor, and must comply with Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) health protocols. 

Media Production:  
Permitted indoors up to 50% of total listed occupancy.  No outdoor occupancy limit outdoors, but must have 6 feet social distance between groups and follow other health protocols. Production office staff not on set should comply with the requirements for the office-based employees. 

Outdoor Dining:  
Restaurants are limited to 50% capacity indoors but are not subject to the 10-person limitation for outdoor gatherings. 

Outdoor businesses facilities/activities: 
The following facilities/businesses are limited to 50% capacity whether indoors or outdoors, but are not subject to the 10-person limitation for outdoor gatherings:  

Professional, collegiate, or similar sporting events  
Swimming pools  
Water parks  
Museums and libraries  
Zoos, aquariums, natural caverns, and similar facilities  
Rodeos and equestrian events 
Amusement parks 
 

Outdoor Motorsports Events 
Permitted up to 50% of normal operating limits as determined by the venue owner. Must follow health protocols including face coverings, social distancing, etc.  

Outdoor Sports 
Permitted if there is no contact with between participants and no more than 10 participants play the sport at any time. Must comply with DSHS health protocol requirements. 

Religious Services 
Permitted, including those conducted in a church, congregation, or houses of workshop. Neither the 50% capacity limit nor the 10-person limit applies. 

Recreational Youth Sports 
Permitted. Spectators should maintain at least 6 feet of social distance from individuals not in the spectator's group. Not subject to the 50% occupancy limit or the 10-person limit. Must comply with DSHS health protocol requirements.   

School Sports and Extracurricular Activities  
Under the Health Authority Order dated July 14, extracurricular activities are prohibited until school systems re-open for on-campus instruction. 

Wedding and wedding receptions 
If a wedding is held at a business, such as a wedding venue or venue that hosts weddings, the venue can have no more than 50% occupancy limits inside. There are no outdoor occupancy limits for weddings. Weddings must follow health protocols (required face coverings, social distancing, etc.). 

Youth Camps 
Permitted. Neither the 50% capacity limit nor the 10-person limit applies apply. Face coverings, social distancing, and DSHS health protocol requirements must be followed. 

 

COVID-19 Economic Recovery Support for Creative Sector 

The City of Austin has approved $271.6 million in COVID-19 recovery funding. $16.5 million of this funding is dedicated to the Small Business Relief Grant. Applications for this up to $40,000 grant are open until July 24, 2020. Apply for this grant and learn more about other funding opportunities at atxrecovers.com.  

City Council also dedicated the following grants to help businesses during COVID-19: 

  • $1 million to a new Creative Space Disaster Relief Program, which closed on June 17, 2020.  
  • $1.5 million to the Music Disaster Relief Fund, which closed June 26, 2020.  
  • $3.5 million is dedicated to the Creative Worker Relief Fund. City staff is working launch this program and more information will be shared as soon as possible.  

Additional Support

Covid Concierge with Jordan Flowers

For further questions or needed clarification please reach our to Jordan Flowers at [email protected]