Local leaders get additional leeway for COVID-19 restrictions

There will be no fireworks in Austin, San Marcos or Georgetown this year as all were canceled because of recent increases in COVID19 cases.

With other towns still trying to decide whether or not to light the fuse or pull the plug, Governor Greg Abbott Tuesday issued an order providing organizers and local government officials some legal cover. The capacity amount for outdoor events that can trigger restrictions is now set at 100 people; down from 500.

RELATED: Gov. Abbott expands local authority on outdoor gatherings

"So Travis County for example, for 4th of July celebrations, if you have a gathering of 100 people or more the county or local officials have the authority to impose regulations on those gatherings,” said Abbott during an interview Tuesday evening on FOX7.

FOX7 was told Wednesday that scenes of mass gatherings, like what took place on Texas beaches during the Memorial Day weekend, also contributed to the Governor's decision. However, Abbott made it clear it's not a statewide shutdown.

"What is occurring in Austin, Texas is far different than what's occurring in Austin County,” said Abbott.

RELATED: July 4th celebration in Georgetown canceled due to COVID-19

The order comes as San Marcos plans to shut down its river and parks on the 25th. In the town of Burnet, where the spike in COVID-19 cases is not as large, the approach is a little different. The mayor spoke by phone on why she won’t use the hammer the governor put into her COVID-19 toolbox.

"I think we have to be, folks lets be on the same team. I think taking a hammer, unless we’ve got a really severe and uncontrolled rise in cases I think that the best thing to do is the, more ants with sugar than vinegar. We hope everyone will participate and we will encourage them,” said Mayor Crista Goble Bromley.

That encouragement in Burnet to self-regulate involves free giveaways of masks and thermometers to businesses in town. Mayor Bromley says more than 16,000 masks have been given out and another 21,000 have been ordered.


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Another example of self-regulation under the Governor’s original order will take place inside Dell Diamond. A COVID-19 crowd control plan is in place for the upcoming fireworks show and concert. Key parts of the plan include outfield seating in 6' square pods with no more than four people and stadium seating reconfigured with spacing between groups with alternating open rows.

Additional restrictions could be required by the city of Round Rock under the governor's order. However, just as it is in Burnet, the decision between shutdown, or crackdown, will be determined by local factors.


"It depends on where you are and what your counts are, so at this time we won’t implement that, there may come a time when we will, and we appreciate the governor giving us the opportunity to do that,” said Mayor Bromley.


FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com.