City of AustinFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Organizers should reconsider events of more than 250 people
Austin Public Health (APH) is requesting that event organizers strongly consider cancelling or postponing events of more than 250 people given the ongoing investigation of three presumptive cases of COVID-19. These are currently voluntary requests for cancellations. Stronger recommendations are under consideration.
APH epidemiologists who are investigating the exposure risk from the new COVID-19 cases in the local jurisdiction are recommending a range of measures to reduce the opportunity for community spread.
The following guidelines are strongly recommended for events:
- Increase the frequency of sanitizing frequently touched surfaces.
- Encourage attendees to stay at least six feet away from each other to reduce risk.
- Keep an adequate supply of hand soap, disinfectants, tissues, and paper towels.
- Encourage attendees to follow increased hygiene, such as:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with other people.
When considering attending an event people should consider the following guidelines:
- Anyone who is sick should not attend.
- Anyone who has a member of their household that is sick should not attend.
- Those who are at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness, including individuals over 65 or with underlying conditions such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, should not attend.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue - if available - or into your elbow.
- Those feeling unwell should not use public transportation.
The updated recommendations for events are consistent with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“The health and safety of Austin-Travis County residents and visitors is our highest priority and today we’re adopting a regional strategy to help minimize the spread of this disease,” said Dr. Mark Escott, interim health authority for Austin-Travis County. “We are looking for opportunities to mitigate risk while keeping businesses operating. If we can find the right balance we can better sustain our community.”
Separately, emergency rules have been adopted mandating restaurants and other food establishments to take a range of actions to reduce the possibility of exposure to COVID-19 in Austin-Travis County.
The new rules, effective today, March 13, 2020, state that food permit holders and people in charge of food businesses must:
- Display “Help Prevent Disease” signs provided by Austin Public Health in a prominent public location clearly visible to the general public and patrons.
- Make hand sanitizer available to the general public and to patrons.
- Disinfect and sanitize commonly touched surfaces and nonfood-contact surfaces of equipment of the establishment at least once every hour.
- Adopt and implement a policy that provides for the immediate exclusion of food handlers from duties if they develop a fever greater than or equal to 100.4 degrees during their shift.
Failure to comply with the Emergency Rules, which will expire July 12, 2020, constitutes a public health hazard and violations may result in the immediate suspension of food establishment permits.
For more information and updates, visit www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.