AUSTIN, Texas - Austin-Travis County is prohibiting events with 2,500 or more attendees until May in light of last week's local state of disaster declaration related to coronavirus, unless organizers can show Austin Public Health that mitigation plans are in place.
According to a release, the City of Austin, following CDC guidelines, is focusing on mass gatherings defined as a planned or spontaneous event with a large number of people in attendance that could strain the planning and response resources of the community hosting the event, such as concerts, festivals, conferences, worship services, and sporting events.
Starting March 9 through May 1, events with 2,500 or more people are prohibited unless organizers are able to assure Austin Public Health that mitigation plans for infectious diseases are in place. Each event will be evaluated case-by-case, says the release.
APH will conduct a risk assessment for every event of 2,500 or more people, including special events and permanently-permitted venues with a capacity of 2,500 or more. An Evaluation Checklist has been developed to assess the level of risk. The likelihood of an event remaining prohibited increases significantly with the following criteria:
- Great likelihood for extended close personal contact
- Crowd density is high
- Significant number of travelers from areas currently experiencing person-to-person spread of coronavirus domestically and internationally
- High number of guests coming from unknown locations
- Insufficient mechanisms in place to isolate, manage and address needs of people should they become ill or an outbreak occurs
- Plan to disseminate information about the need for basic hygiene practices is insufficient
- Insufficient number of toilet facilities available
- Insufficient number and type of hand washing and sanitizing stations available
Venues and event planners for events in Austin with more than 2,500 people who have submitted an application for a special event permit will be contacted by local officials regarding their permit application status.
Permanently-permitted venues with a capacity of 2,500 or more, and any other event organizers without a special event permit application pending, should refer to detailed information online to arrange for Austin Public Health to review their specific events and operations.
APH will be prioritizing Spring Festival events closest in date and largest in capacity. Special events for fewer than 2,500 people, and permanently-permitted venues with a capacity below 2,500, are currently unaffected by the new measures and will not be subject to an APH review at this time, but the process is subject to change, says the release.
New events not already permitted should go through the normal permitting process, into which these risk mitigation strategies will be incorporated, says the release. Anyone planning an event outside of Austin city limits that is in, or extends into, Travis County, should contact the Travis County Fire Marshal at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 512-854-4621.