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Austin to loosen Covid vaccine, distancing rules for live music and events

Thursday, May 20, 2021 by Andrew Weber, KUT

Austin’s live music and arts scenes have been hurting in the pandemic.

But as more and more Central Texans get vaccinated and Covid-related hospitalizations wane, the city known for live music is priming itself for a return to relative normalcy.

As part of that process, the Austin Center for Events announced Wednesday that it’s revising the health and safety requirements it laid out in March for organizing events. Starting next week, officials say event organizers applying for permits won’t have to require attendees to prove they’re vaccinated.

On top of that, city officials said permit applicants “can anticipate changes to the social distancing requirements and masking requirements.”

In the announcement, Austin Public Health’s interim medical director, Dr. Mark Escott, said the city’s vaccination rates factored into the decision to loosen event rules.

“Now that we have vaccines widely available in our community, and more than 50 percent of our population has taken advantage of that opportunity, we are able to relax our guidelines and our rules,” Escott said. “As we continue along this positive path, many people may return to their normal activities and more special events will begin taking place.”

The announcement comes as large-scale music festivals and events, as well as local venues, are planning for a busy summer and fall.

Austin City Limits Festival announced Wednesday that tickets will go on sale for its first weekend this afternoon. Earlier this week, Levitation announced its plans to return to the Red River Cultural District over Halloween.

And while clubs and venues have been hosting smaller scale shows over the past few months, many intend to ramp up to full capacity over the summer for live music, including Mohawk and Continental Club.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

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