Guidelines for Bringing Events Back

Indoor Guidelines outline recommendations for venues to establish a minimum standard for COVID-19 health and safety. 

Outdoor Guidelines outline recommendations for outdoor events and venues that require a permit from Austin Center for Events. There is also a new permit requirement. As allowed by City Code Chapter 4-20 (Special Events), special event applicants will now be required to submit a COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan as part of the special event application through a new on-line form.  All aspects of the application will remain digital.

  • Apply for a Special Events permit on the Austin Build + Connect portal
  • After applying for a Special Events Permit, complete the COVID-19 Health & Safety Form 
    • Preview of questions on the Health & Safety Form
  • Once the COVID-19 Health Safety Form has been submitted a copy will be sent to the ACE Team and we will include it as part of the overall special events application for review.

Bringing Events Back Guidance

PRESS RELEASE 

Austin-Travis County COVID-19 Safety Guide for Venues & Special Events (English PDF) 

 

Supplemental Guidance

Archived Guidance 

Virtual Office Hours for Support

Staff will host two virtual office hours sessions to answer questions about these new guidelines.

Registrants will receive access to the virtual event. There is no cost to attend. 

Event Stakeholder Virtual Office Hours hosted by ACE + Economic Development Music Office

  • Thursday, March 25, 2021 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. - REGISTRATION CLOSED 
  • Tuesday, March 30, 2021 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. -  REGISTRATION CLOSED 

If you were unable to register for one of these times but still have questions contact specialevents@austintexas.gov. 

FAQ

Where did these guidelines come from? 

The recommendations and requirements in these guidelines were developed with reference to Centers for Disease Control ‘Considerations for Events and Gatherings’, the Texas Departments of State Health Services ‘Opening the State of Texas’ guidelines, and under the direction of the Austin Public Health Department and Office of the Medical Director. 

At a local level, input was sought from Austin’s experience sector professionals and organizations including Special Events Task Force, International Live Events Association (ILEA), Texas Live Events Association (TLEA), and the Experience Sector Working Group, a diverse group of over 40 special event and venue leaders in Austin.  

These guidelines were developed with consideration of best practices from industry-led standards of the National Independent Venue Association and the Event Safety Alliance. These guidelines were also reviewed by Reopening Every Venue Safely, a 10-city pilot developed by Music Cities Together, in which Austin has participated for nearly a year.  

When do these guidelines go into effect? 

The guidelines are effective March 19, 2021,

When will these guidelines end? 

Due to the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects in our community, we are unable to set a specific date on when the guidelines will end. However, it is the intention of ACE for these to only be in effect so long as they are deemed prudent by the Medical Director and Austin Public Health. The guidelines will be reevaluated regularly and amended or phased out when it is safe to do so.  

How often will these guidelines be updated? 

Austin Public Health and ACE staff will convene every 30 days to review the existing guidelines in relation to changes in COVID-19 trends. Guidelines will be promptly updated and released after each review cycle.  

How do guidelines fit in with the Risk Based Guidelines and Stages? 

The event guidelines were developed to ensure events can take place safely under the COVID-19 conditions we are experiencing today. While Austin Public Health and ACE staff are unable to tie certain requirements to the risk based guidelines and stages, we will maintain regular communication with the Medical Director and amend guidelines and review criteria as soon as it is appropriate to do so. 

Who is reviewing these guidelines and how will you ensure consistency in application review? 

These guidelines will be reviewed by a member of the Austin Public Health Department, in collaboration with ACE. This dedicated reviewer will help ensure consistency of our process and can answer questions and provide guidance specific to an applicant's specific plan.  

What the COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan and what is a COVID-19 Health and Safety Form?

For Special Event Permits, applicants must submit a COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan with their application. To ensure everyone has a consistent experience, applicants can submit their plan through the on-line COVID-19 Health & Safety Form. ACE staff will combine the form with the rest of the ACE Special Event Permit application. 

When do I need to submit the COVID-19 Health and Safety Form in relation the special event application? Should I submit my application and my health and safety form if my event isn’t for several months, and the COVID-19 health and safety requirements may change? 

A Health Safety Form is a requirement for special event permitting, so we recommend submittal as soon as you are able to do so. It is up to event organizers to determine if they would like to wait to see if requirements change due to reductions in COVID-19 in our community. As general guidance, we recommend submitting the COVID-19 Health and Safety Form at least 30 days prior to the event for Tier 1 and Tier 2 events, 60 days for Tier 3 and Tier 4 events.

**Please note, review times may vary depending on application volumes and you may want to allow additional time in case modifications are needed. Events without an approved COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan will not receive a permit. 

How do these new guidelines impact the Special Event Permit process?  
  1. In addition to completing the standard ACE special event application through the Austin Build + Connect portal, applicants will also complete the 2021 Special Events Health Safety Plan

  2. Once the Health Safety Plan has been submitted a copy will be sent to the ACE Team and we will include it as part of your overall application for review.

  3. Austin Public Health and ACE staff will review your plan for completeness and reach out if additional clarification or modifications are required.

  4. Work with ACE staff to schedule meetings to discuss logistical considerations for your event, answer questions, and make preparations. We are available to help event organizers with all aspects of event permitting, including this new COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan requirement. 

  5. Special Event Permits will be issued after fees have been collected and in advance of your event date, as outlined in the Special Events Ordinance.  

How will Bringing Event Back guidelines apply to me if I am an indoor venue but need a Special Events Permit for my outdoor space? 

Previously, under GA-32 events taking place outdoors were limited to less than 10 people.  Executive Order G-34 removes that requirement, but the Health Authority Rules limits the size of groups outdoors to under 10. This means more than 10 people can be at an outdoor event, but any groups must be no more than 10 and physically distanced. The new COVID-19 Health and Safety Form checks for this requirement when applicants supply information on their social distancing plan and practices. Approved applications will allow for these outdoor spaces to be used in a fuller capacity. 

Does this effect me if I don’t usually need a Special Event Permit for my venue? 

If you have a venue with a permanent occupancy you do not need a special event permit or to submit the COVID-19 Heath and Safety Form. The indoor guidelines are recommendations for your venue to operate safely.   

How will the Bringing Events Back guidelines work for outdoor events? 

Applicants interested in obtaining a Special Event Permit for outdoor events will need to submit a Health Safety Form and gain approval in addition to the standard ACE application. Additional considerations for hosting safe outdoor events are included in the Bringing Events Back: Austin-Travis County COVID-19 Safety Guide for Venues & Special Events.

How do these guidelines impact artists, musicians, vendors and venue or special event employees working at venues and special events? 

Artists, musicians, vendors and employees of venues and special events will all benefit from the same understanding of minimum health and safety guidance. For a full list of resources for artist and musicians visit www.atxmusic.org and www.atxrecovers.com. 

Is COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan approval the same as approval for my special event? 

No, the COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan is one component of your special event application. The Special Event Permit is the formal approval from the City for your event to take place. 

How do I know that I have approval for my COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan?  

Upon approval of your COVID-19 Health and Safety Form, ACE will notify you via email and notate your special event permit application. Your application status can be checked by signing into AB+C portal and selecting My Permits. 

Direct questions about your special event application to specialevents@austintexas.gov

I want to talk to someone about my event. Where can I go for help? 

The Austin Center for Events is here to help you plan for a successful and safe event. For questions or guidance please contact us at specialevents@austintexas.gov

How specific does my layout need to be when submitting a site plan? If it is subject to change between now and a June event, should I go ahead and submit the application and then any potential changes? Or wait it out? What kind of safety procedures are you looking to see implemented most of all that will ensure we can conduct our event?

The site plan layout needs to indicate all barricades, seating, vending areas, tents and other physical structures. Drawings can be approximate and don't necessarily need to be to scale, computer aided drawings are not required. The intent of the site plan is to convey the layout of the event so staff can review for life safety and health safety compliance. If safety requirements change a revised site plan can be submitted for consideration. Check out the site plan guidance webpage with sample site plans. 

Is the capacity limit for indoor events to be determined by 6' social distancing requirement? What method of calculation do you recommend we use for this?

Private indoor facilities may operate at their certificate of occupancy level if a special event permit is not needed. Indoor events on City property are governed by the social distancing requirements in the Special Event Health and Safety requirements, as well as any department specific requirements. For PARD, the Parks Director will determine what capacity is appropriate for PARD facilities reopening based on the direction the City Manager. Generally with whatever number is decided for PARD buildings - it will still require distancing and masks.

Is the health and safety form in the ACE application or where do we locate/submit?

In addition to being on the ACE website, if an applicant submits an ACE application through the Austin Build + Connect Portal, they will be emailed a link to the Special Events Health and Safety Plan form. ACE staff will attach the COVID-19 Health and Safety Form to the event application for applicants. 

What's the difference between the Tier 1, 2,3 and 4 events?

The Special Events Ordinance outlines the difference between the Tiers. Tier 1 is smallest and Tier 4 is largest. Each has a different application deadline and submittal requirements.

What are event organizers responsible for with respect to tracking or holding onto contact tracing information from an event? 

The City of Austin is not requiring event organizers to obtain or hold on to COVID-19 tracing information. However, The Special Events Health and Safety Plan does require screening of employees and attendees as they enter, as well as immediate reporting of any known positive cases to aph.preparedness@austintexas.gov. Changes to the requirements will be publicized to ACE customers through email and on the ACE website.

For outdoor events that can be easily distanced, what types of safety protocols is the City looking for specifically in the COVID-19 Health and Safety Form

Outdoor events will still need to ensure that attendees are adequately social distanced, in addition to meeting masking, santization, and other requirements found on the Special Events Health and Safety Plan. The questions you will need to respond to can be found on this preview document to help you plan.