Temporary restrictions will remain in place between Thursday, December 31, and Sunday, January 3.
After issuing a warning earlier this week, Austin public health officials have placed a curfew on dine-in food and drink services beginning on New Year’s Eve at 10:30 pm in order to curb the growing number of cases in the capital.
On Tuesday, December 28, Dr. Mark Escott announced in an Austin Public Health weekly COVID-19 update that officials were willing to implement a city-wide curfew to mitigate the escalating number of virus cases in the city.
Last night, the City of Austin announced that it would be placing late-night restrictions of in-person food and beverage businesses, capping them at 10:30 pm from Thursday, December 31, to Sunday, January 3, as to prevent large New Year’s Eve-related gatherings. This includes businesses such as food trucks that have an onsite kitchen. However, this temporary restriction, officials said, does not apply to curbside, takeout, or delivery options, which are allowed to operate past 10:30 pm.
Austin is currently in a Stage 5 risk level, in which Austin Public Health officials encourage public residents to avoid all gatherings outside of the household, and to avoid unessential dining and shopping.
“We will start 2021 with our hospitals full or nearly full,” said Dr. Escott. “We’re talking about the possibility of, within the first two weeks of 2021, further exceeding that capacity.”
“We are now experiencing uncontrolled widespread community transmission of COVID-19, particularly in circumstances where masking and distancing are not possible, making bars and similar establishments extremely concerning over this holiday weekend.”
Mayor Steve Adler told KXAN that he intends for the Travis County Fire Marshal’s Office, Austin Police, Austin Public Health, and Austin Code Department to uphold and enforce the order. Defying this order, he said, would result in a fine up to $1,000, but no jail time.
“The numbers that we are looking at right now frankly are the scariest numbers I have seen since this started in March,” he said.
“You know, I don’t call this a curfew, because in my mind, that gives rise to a lot of things that are much broader than the order we have here. We are not restricting people’s movements, their ability to be able to travel around, their ability to go to the drug store or the grocery store if you’re out at night. So I think what is more descriptive is, kind of just the modification of operations for restaurants; I think that’s probably the most apt description because this is so narrowly drawn just to cover that.”
While it is not illegal for Austin residents to be outside their households after 10:30 pm, Adler encourages the public to limit their gatherings to members of the same household.