Guidelines for Bringing Events Back: Updated July 23, 2021

The City strongly recommends certain actions and is providing guidance for individuals to make informed decisions about the potential risks when they are out in public. For special events Austin Center for Events (ACE) will continue to work with event organizers to encourage their patrons to follow Health Authority guidelines and the recommendations outlined in the Bringing Events Back: Austin-Travis County COVID-19 Safety Guide for Venues & Special Events where possible.  

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. 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. Completion of the form is required, compliance is voluntary and strongly encouraged.  

All aspects of the application will remain digital. This form will be updated regularly as health conditions change. 

  • 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.

Mobile Vaccine Services 

Event organizers and their staff can get vaccinated before an event. Organizers can register to co-host a mobile vaccine event. Complete the Austin Public Health Mobile Vaccination Request Form to request a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at least one month before the event to help staff and volunteers be fully vaccinated prior to the event.  

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and require neither identification nor insurance. Residents can locate providers in their area using Vaccines.gov or they can text their zip code to 438829 (822862 in Spanish) to find a nearby clinic.  

Recommendations & Guidance

  • PART II: Austin-Travis County COVID-19 Safety Guide for Venues & Special Events (English PDF) - July 23, 2021
  • Reopening Every Venue Safely (REVS) Austin Best Practices for Music Venues (English PDF

Archived Guidance for Reference Only 

Support on Guidance 

Contact specialevents@austintexas.gov for questions on guidance or for support with your special events application. 

FAQ

Where did these guidelines come from? 

The recommendations 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 during the pandemic. 

When do these guidelines go into effect? 

The guidelines went into effect beginning March 19, 2021 and are updated in accordance with the latest health recommendations. 

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 Health Authority. The guidelines are reevaluated regularly and are amended or will be 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? 

Austin Public Health Risk-Based Guidelines provide guidance for individuals' behavior. Austin Public Health uses several metrics including new hospital admissions, hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) capacity, ventilator use, overall positivity rate, vaccination rates, and rate of change of these metrics determine the stage of risk. 

Stage 3 recommendations include: 

If you are high-risk and unvaccinated/partially vaccinated:  

  • Avoid indoor and outdoor private gatherings, unless essential 
  • Avoid non-essential travel 
  • Avoid dining and shopping, unless essential 

If you are low-risk, but have not been fully vaccinated, you should use precautions such as masking when engaging in private gatherings, traveling, and dining/shopping

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

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

How do these new guidelines impact the Special Event Permit process?  

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

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.

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

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. 

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 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.

What is 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. 

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 the requirements are subject to change between now and a summer or fall 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. 

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 recommend immediate reporting of any known positive cases to aph.preparedness@austintexas.gov. 

Are event organizers obliged to require proof of vaccinations as part of the COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan?

Providing proof of vaccine for patrons will not be a requirement for event applicants. Any pre-admission proof of vaccine protocols will be up to event organizers to determine.