COVID-19 Special Event Updates: December 30, 2020

Beginning on Thursday, December 31 at 10:30 p.m. through Sunday, January 3 at 6 a.m., dine-in food and beverage service will be restricted by City and County order from 10:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. 

Venues serving food and drink may still operate between 10:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. using drive-thru, curbside pick-up, take-out, or delivery service. This change applies to any venue serving food or drink from an onsite kitchen, food truck, or catering service. Between 6 a.m. and 10:30 p.m., venues are permitted to continue dine-in operations.  

This Order applies to catering and beverage services at event venues, and to businesses providing food and beverage services in non-commercial spaces. Food and beverage services are required to end by 10:30 p.m. on New Year's Eve and the additional January dates under this Order. 

A violation of this Order is a violation of Austin City Code Section 2-6-24 and a criminal offense. A violation of this Order may be punishable through criminal enforcement, except as limited by state order. A criminal violation of this Order is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000, but not by confinement.  

You can view the City and the County orders on the COVID-19 Orders and Rules page.  

The City orders can be viewed here.
The County orders can be viewed here.   
Press release details can be viewed here. 

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City of Austin updated to Stage 5 of the Risk Based Guidelines. See the December 23, 2020 Order and Recommendations. For more details visit austintexas.gov/COVID19

City of Austin and Travis County also extended the Stay Home, Mask and Otherwise Be Safe Order through Feb. 16, 2021. 

Additionally, the Austin-Travis County Health Authority has extended the Health Authority Rules through Apr. 15, 2021 and included additional updates.  

The date has been extended for the existing rules related to the experience sector and live event industry, and there are new rules for dine-in and food and beverage service (Section 5.6) and quarantine rules (Section 2.5).  This update extends the rule that no more than 10 people may stand or gather together.  Read the full Order and Rules documents for other industry impacts.

Governor Abbot's Executive Order (GA 32) is still in place. All event related Order details are outlined on the Special Event Updates: COVID-19 webpage. Open Texas Checklists and more details on State Orders open.texas.gov.

Risk Based Guidelines: STAGE 5

Determinations on closures are still being made by the City and County. As a reminder, Austin Public Health Risk-Based Guidelines provide guidance for individuals behavior. Austin Public Health uses several metrics, focusing on new hospital admissions, but also reviewing hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) capacity, ventilator use, overall positivity rate, and rate of change of these metrics determine the stage of risk. 

Austin-Travis County is currently in Stage 5. Stage five recommendations include: 

  • No gatherings with anyone outside of your household  
  • Dining and shopping should be limited to essential trips 
  • Avoid non-essential travel 
  • Businesses are recommended to operate through contactless options (I.e. curbside, delivery) 

Business Operational Capacity Impacts

The general rule is that all businesses may now operate at 75% of the total listed occupancy of the establishment, except as otherwise provided in the Order.

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

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 Gatherings on City Parkland 

Nearly all events on City parkland require a separate park permit and reservation. Please contact the PARD Office of Special Events at reservations@austintexas.gov, and consult the information on the PARD Office of Special Events department website.


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 75% outdoor occupancy limit applies to the following outdoor areas, events, or establishments, including:

a. swimming pools;
b. museums and libraries;
c. zoos, aquariums, natural caverns, and similar facilities;
d. amusements parks; and
e. water parks
 
A 50% indoor/outdoor limit applies to professional, collegiate  and similar sporting events, including rodeos and equestrian events.

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 75% 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 75% 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 service allowed only if customers are seated while eating and drinking).

Dine-In Services

At a dine-in counter, limit groups who sit together to two individuals unless counter seating is the only seating, in which case a group may include six individuals.  Arrange seats at a counter so that each seat is at least six feet apart from another seat except when a group of two individuals are seated at the counter or when each seat is separated by a solid barrier. There must be six feet of distance between tables and individuals seated at a counter for service unless there is a solid barrier between tables.

Outdoor Motorsports Events 
Outdoor motorsports events are 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 
Outdoor sports are permitted if there is no contact between participants and no more than 10 participants play the sport at any time. The event must comply with DSHS health protocol requirements. 

Religious Services 
Religious service are permitted, including those conducted in a church, congregation, or houses of workshop.

Recreational Youth Sports 
Recreation youth sports are permitted. Spectators should maintain at least six feet of social distance from individuals not in the spectator's group and must comply with DSHS health protocol requirements.
  
Wedding and Wedding Receptions
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 75% 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 
Youth camps are 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.

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

Special Event Guidance During COVID-19

City of Austin has additional specifications for events during COVID-19.

Car Parade Guidance (English PDF)

Drive-In Concert Guidance (English PDF

Reopening Every Venue Safely (REVS) Best Practices for Music Venues (English PDF

Resources and More Information 

If you have questions about your event application or future plans, contact specialevents@austintexas.gov and we can schedule a remote meeting with you.

Special Event Permit Application Cancellation from Spring 2020

The City received just under 200 Spring Festival Season permit applications. A list of the permit application cancellations is available. Cancellations may be for any reason, including but not limited to the Austin-Travis County Orders to prohibit mass gatherings.