COVID-19 Updates: December 16, 2020

Economic Development Department Highlights   

Local live music venue hosting a band playing instruments


Austin SAVES Fund to Distribute COVID-19 Relief Dollars to Local Live Music Venues

Application Open: December 11, 2020 – January 11, 2020 at 5:00 p.m.

The Austin City Council established the Save Austin’s Vital Economic Sectors (SAVES) Fund through Ordinance No. 20201001-052 to support local industries. Through the SAVES Fund, the Austin City Council adopted the final guidelines for the $5 million Austin Live Music Venue Preservation Fund on December 3, 2020 via Resolution No. 20200103-013.


As part of a partnership with the City of Austin, the Long Center for the Performing Arts will provide application assistance, process applications, and administer funds. Eligible live music venues must be located in a City of Austin City Council District; must meet the City’s definition of a live music venue; must have significantly reduced operations since March 2020; and must meet or exceed the City’s COVID-19 safety guidelinesLearn more and apply for the Austin Live Music Venue Preservation Fund.



Child care teacher reading to children


Austin SAVES Fund to Distribute COVID-19 Relief Grants for Childcare Providers

Application Open: December 15, 2020 – January 15, 2021 at 5:00 p.m.

The Austin City Council established the Save Austin’s Vital Economic Sectors (SAVES) Fund through Ordinance No. 20201001-052 to support local industries. Through the SAVES Fund, the Austin City Council designated $5 million for the Austin Childcare Provider Relief Grant through Resolution No. 20201015-73.


The Austin Childcare Provider Relief Grant provides immediate and equitably-focused one-time financial assistance to eligible center-based and home-based childcare providers. Providers may apply for grants up to $60,000 per site toward payroll, rent relief, operational costs, and other eligible COVID-19 related expenses. Learn more and apply for the Austin Childcare Provider Relief Grant.



COVID-19 Health & Wellness Support Line: 1-888-855-7483

The COVID-19 Health & Wellness Support Line provides confidential 24-hour short-term counseling and support to Austin workers and families whose mental health has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 Health and Wellness Support Line with Alliance Work Partners is funded through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and will close on December 30, 2020 due to CARES Act requirements. Low and moderate-income employees working in customer-facing industries like food and beverage service, retail, hospitality, and personal services (i.e., barbershops, salons, residential cleaning, etc.) are highly encouraged to access this free resource. Learn more about the COVID-19 Health & Wellness Support Line.



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Visit the AustinEconDev YouTube Channel and watch the latest on City programs for artists, musicians, and small business owners.



City issues Request for Proposals for the 5.5-acre Ryan Drive Site

On October 8, 2020, the City of Austin issued a Request for Proposals for the approximately 5.5-acre, city-owned property at 6909 Ryan Drive. Building on previous community outreach, the City worked throughout the past year with the community and stakeholders to refine development options for this future mixed-income housing development. The City, community, and stakeholders also established minimum development criteria for the site related to affordable housing, parks and open space, and community/commercial space, as well as pedestrian and bicycle access improvements to the Crestview MetroRail Station. Learn more about the solicitation for Ryan Drive.



Austin Art in Public Places 2021-2023 Pre-Qualified Artist Pool Open Call 

Artists and artist teams are invited to apply for the Austin Art in Public Places 2021-2023 Pre-Qualified Artist Pool now through January 7, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. Selected artists may be contracted to create artwork for eligible projects throughout Austin. The artists budget ranges between $30,000 and more than $500,000.



TEMPO 2021

The TEMPO 2021 temporary public art exhibition offers paid opportunities for practicing visual artists or artist teams to design, fabricate, install and de-install short-term or time-based exterior artworks, including murals. Austin area artists are encouraged to submit a Request for Proposals by Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 5:00 p.m.



Businesses invited to Apply: City of Austin’s [Re]Verse Pitch Competition

Austin businesses that have surplus material or by-product waste are invited to apply to become a material supplier at the sixth annual [Re]Verse Pitch Competition, a social innovation program hosted by the City of Austin’s Circular Economy Program and Austin Young Chamber. As material suppliers, local businesses will pitch their surplus material to innovators and entrepreneurs who will develop a new product or business idea using the material. Businesses that are selected to become material suppliers could see a reduction in their waste output, a decrease in their disposal costs, and have a positive social and economic impact in Austin. Apply for the [Re]Verse Pitch Competition.



Strategic Planning Conducting a SWOT Analysis for Creatives and Creative Non-Profits

The creative sector needs a good strategic plan to be successful, and a good strategic plan begins with a robust SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, which are the internal and external factors that influence your organization’s potential for success. In this webinar, you will learn how to conduct a comprehensive SWOT analysis, and how to use it to establish your organization’s goals and a strategy for achieving success. This webinar is hosted in partnership with the Economic Development Department and BiGAustin. Register for Strategic Planning Conducting a SWOT Analysis

COVID-19 Updates: November 30, 2020:
Free and Not so free COVID testing sites


Health & Safety 

Visit the City of Austin Information for Businesses and Industry website for updated safety guidelines for employers, employees and customers.





Governor Abbott Expands Capacity for Certain Services In Texas

On September 17, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Orders expanding occupancy levels for restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, manufacturing facilities, gyms and exercise facilities and classes, museums, and libraries, and re-authorizing elective surgeries for a majority of the state. The Governor also announced new visitation guidance for eligible nursing homes, assisted living facilities, intermediate care facilities, home and community-based service providers, and inpatient hospice effective Thursday, September 24, 2020. Read Governor Abbott's new orders

Read updates specifically from City of Austin Center for Events for the experience sector and live event industry.



A pointy flu shot syringe – Who needs a flu shot? You


Austin Public Health Encourages Community to Get Flu Shot to Fight Flu

Austin Public Health reminds the community that getting a flu vaccine is critical to protect yourself, your loved ones, and the entire community from the flu, especially during COVID-19. Share why getting the flu shot is important to you! Include #FluFreeATX and tag @AustinPublicHealth on Facebook and Instagram, @AusPublicHealth on Twitter. Visit for more information.



A COVID-19 Back-to-School Planning checklist with orange checks marking off multiple plans that are completed.


COVID-19 Back-to-School Planning

Before your child hops on the bus, create a COVID-19 Plan for the whole family! This includes symptoms screenings every morning and a way to pick them up if they get sick during the day. Stay up to date on City of Austin COVID-19 news and resources.



Free Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Austin Public Health (APH), Travis County, Central Health and its affiliate CommUnityCare Health Centers recently kicked-off a six-week personal protective equipment (PPE) distribution initiative. Free PPE kits containing face masks and hand sanitizer will be provided to residents in areas with high COVID-19 positivity rates. If you have family or friends who are need of PPE, refer to them to this list of PPE distribution sites.



COVID-19 Updates: September 21, 2020

Governor Abbot issued Executive Order (GA 30) on September 17, 2020, with an effective date of September 21, 2020. Outlined below are the updates as they relate to the experience sector and live event industry. Read the full Order for other industry impacts.

Business Operational Capacity Impacts
The general rule is that all businesses may operate at 50% of the total listed occupancy of the establishment.  Under GA-30, the following businesses may operate at 75% of total listed occupancy:
a. in-store, non-CISA retail establishments
b. dine-in restaurants. Only restaurants that have less than 51 percent of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages, and whose customers eat or drink only while seated, may offer dine-in services.
c. non-CISA office buildings
d. non-CISA manufacturers
e. museums and libraries
f. gyms and exercise facilities and classes
Outdoor Gatherings
An outdoor gathering in excess of 10 people, other than the exceptions listed below, is prohibited unless the mayor of the city in which the gathering is held, or the county judge in the case of a gathering in an unincorporated area, approves of the gathering, and such approval can be made subject to certain conditions or restrictions not inconsistent with the Governor’s executive order.
The Special Events Office, which includes Austin Public Health, will continue to process special event applications and their accompanying risk mitigation plans in accordance with state and local Orders.
Outdoor Occupancy Exceptions:
Outdoor events of more than 10 people are prohibited with some exceptions. All exceptions require COVID-19 health and safety protocols including face coverings, social distancing and more as outlined in the latest Orders issued by the Mayor and Governor and must comply with Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) health protocols.

The 50% outdoor occupancy limit applies to the following outdoor areas, events, or establishments, including:

a. professional, collegiate, or similar sporting events
b. swimming pools
c. water parks
d. museums and libraries
e. zoos, aquariums, natural caverns, and similar facilities
f. rodeos and equestrian events
g. amusements parks
There is no occupancy limit to drive-in concerts, movies, or similar events, under guidelines that facilitate appropriate social distancing, that generally require spectators to remain in their vehicles, and that minimize in-person contact between people who are not in the same household or vehicle.
Fine Arts Performance Halls:
Fine arts performance halls may operate indoors up to 50% of the total listed occupancy; there is no occupancy limit on fine arts performance halls operating outdoors, however, 6 feet distancing between groups is needed and groups cannot exceed 10 persons.  The performance hall’s employees and contractors are not counted towards the 50% occupancy limitation.   
Outdoor Dining 
Restaurants are limited to 75% total listed occupancy indoors but are not subject to an occupancy limit for outdoor dining (dine-in services only allowed if customers are seated while eating and drinking).

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 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.

Recreational Youth Sports 
Permitted. Spectators should maintain at least 6 feet of social distance from individuals not in the spectator's group. Must comply with DSHS health protocol requirements.
Wedding and Wedding Receptions
A wedding reception held at a restaurant should follow the restaurant protocol.  Wedding reception services held at other indoor locations are limited to 50% of the facility’s total listed occupancy. A wedding that is held in a house of worship does not have an occupancy limit. A wedding that is held at an inside venue other than a house of worship is limited to 50% of the total listed occupancy of the facility. There are no outdoor occupancy limits for weddings or wedding receptions. Weddings and wedding receptions must follow health protocols (required face coverings, social distancing, etc.).

Youth Camps 
Permitted. Face coverings, social distancing, and DSHS health protocol requirements must be followed. 

Staff members are not included in determining operating levels, except for manufacturing services and office workers.

Risk Based Guidelines
The City of Austin wants to provide consistent guidance on what is safe and healthy for individuals, businesses, and organizations. Austin Public Health (APH) does not want to only focus on a single number; hospitalizations. APH does monitor new hospital admissions as the primary key indicator for staging, but also looks to additional indicators, including positivity rate, doubling time of new cases, and current ICU and ventilator patients. Multiple indicators are necessary to guide critical reopening decisions.
These factors also help determine how APH applies the Austin Public Health Risk-Based Guidelines, which are recommendations for local personal behavior. Austin-Travis County is currently in Stage 3. In Stage 3, everyone should avoid social gatherings of any size and encourage high-risk individuals to avoid travel, dining, and shopping that is non-essential.


Review the current Stay Home Orders and Health Authority Emergency Rules which outline event prohibitions.

For questions about your permit application email [email protected] or visit

Click the link below for all ATX Covid-19 Updates! 

Special Events Updates: Covid-19

Austin Creative Worker Relief Grant
COVID-19 Updates - August 13, 2020

**Breaking News**⠀
Today, the City announced a $3.5 million Austin Creative Worker Relief Grant, which provides immediate and equitably-focused grants to individual creatives and industry support staff in Austin. Applicants may apply for a $2,000 grant toward rent, bills, groceries, and other eligible COVID-19 related expenses. You can read the press release online. Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts (TALA) is the City’s third-party partner who is responsible for answering questions about eligibility and providing application assistance. TALA has a dedicated email address and phone number for this program:⠀

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 512-588-9971⠀

Apply for the grant through this website:
Application Opens: August 17, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. ⠀
Application Closes: August 28, 2020 at 5:00 p.m.

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  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:  

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:

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:

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  

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]