Guidelines for Bringing Events Back: Updated October 20, 2021

Austin Center for Events (ACE) continues to modify the COVID-19 Health and Safety Form to be completed as part of the special event application process. This form presents event organizers with several COVID-19 mitigation efforts to consider and allows for applicants to provide information on how they intend to implement them. While this is the same process that has been in effect since April 2021, we continue to update the guidance to correspond with the latest conditions of the pandemic. 

Enhanced mitigation criteria include: 

  • Conduct screening of all attendees including but not limited to: requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of entering an event.
  • Developing strategies for maintaining at least 6 feet of social distancing. 
  • Include “mask zones” in outdoor event areas where social distancing is not possible. Masks are required at City of Austin or Travis County facilities. 

For indoor events with 1,000+ attendees, and outdoor events with 2,500+, the submitted Health and Safety Form must be approved by the Austin Public Health department. An APH staff member will review your form and either approve your plans or work with you on strengthening mitigation efforts so you can hold a safe event.

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.

Masking is required at all City of Austin facilities, including at special events.

Special Events Guidance During COVID-19: Required Health and Safety Form 

The City of Austin has updated the COVID-19 Health & Safety Form required for Special Events Permits. The latest form reflects current health conditions and recommendations in the Risk Based Guidelines. 

This form is a requirement for special events applications and will be updated regularly as health conditions change. After applying for a Special Events Permit, complete the COVID-19 Health & Safety Form. First time users will need to set up an account. 

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

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 III: Austin-Travis County COVID-19 Safety Guide for Venues & Special Events (English PDF) -  Sep. 2, 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 at least 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. 

Are masks required at events?

Masks are required at City of Austin facilities. If your event is at a City facility you will need to require masking and outline how you will ensure compliance during your event. Special events applicants will now need to demonstrate masking plans for staff, vendors and attendees as part of their COVID-19 Health and Safety Form. 

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. 

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.