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Austin Declares “State of Disaster” & Ban on Large Gatherings

Posted by on March 10, 2020

UPDATES: MotoGP has postponed the races until November 2020. Live Fire! has been cancelled, and the Austin Food & Wine Alliance will be issuing refunds.

The news out of City Hall is meant to protect the public, but leaves event organizers scrambling for ways to lessen the damage to their bottom line and beef up sanitation plans in the hopes their show might go on. The City of Austin has issued a “state of disaster” specifically banning SXSW, and Travis County followed with its own. This has led to deep scrutiny of upcoming crowd-heavy events.

For Austin, other than SXSW, the next few months is a slew of outdoor revelry including Austin Lamb Jam, Moto GP, Live Fire! Austin, and the swanky Dell Match Play, and Texas Relays. There’s also Art City Austin, and the Austin Urban Music Fest coming up as well as the hugely popular Austin Food & Wine Festival. We’ve heard that Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion has been greenlighted, but the jury is still out on Rodeo Austin.

The Austin Celtic Association has canceled their annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Jordan Bachman Pioneer Farms, out of an abundance of caution. One would think that Moontower Comedy Festival is safe due to the nature of the festival with shows held in a variety of venues that already offer adequate handwashing facilities. Everything is predicated on how well the event organizers have planned for sanitation, handwashing facilities and the like. Read more about the city’s new mass gathering criteria here.

The economic impact of cancellations is negatively impacting Austin, with layoffs of a third of the year-round SXSW staff following just days after the premiere education, technology and music festival announced that the city had issued an order cancelling it. Our city’s restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, driving services and musicians are all taking a deep hit, financially speaking. The Austin city council continues its discussions of the Covid-19 coronavirus in a March 10, 2020 meeting. Expect more information to be forthcoming.

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