Call to #CancelACL Music Festival arises as Austin-area COVID-19 cases surge

Entertainment

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As ICU beds at hospitals in the Austin-Travis County area reach capacity and new COVID-19 cases skyrocket, the safety of resuming some of Texas’ biggest-ticket entertainment events is causing concern.

The sold-out 2021 Austin City Limits Music Festival is set to be held October 1-10 in Austin’s Zilker Park. While that’s still two months away, a group called Cancel ACL Fest is now calling for the world-famous “ACL” to axe its in-person events.

A Change.org petition has 100 signatures as on Tuesday evening. The petition homepage reads, in part: “Due to Governor Abbott’s laws against vaccine passports and mask mandates, it is no longer safe to have this event. ACL has no plans to even discuss canceling. For the public safety of all that live in Austin, it’s best to cancel the festival.”

On Monday, Austin City Limits Radio announced it would postpone its Blues on the Green live music shows scheduled for August 10 and 11. Music legend Stevie Nicks dropped out of the ACL Music Festival lineup on Tuesday, citing health concerns.

As of Tuesday evening, there are 2,820 active COVID-19 cases in Austin-Travis County. There are currently 569 people hospitalized, 188 patients in the ICU, and 128 people on ventilators. The area is also under Stage 5 COVID-19-risk, which recommends stricter social activities for those who are partially and/or unvaccinated.

New COVID-19 risk-based guidelines for those who are vaccinated, updated in light of the delta variant. Under stage 5 people those who are low risk should wear a mask if gathering, but those who are high risk should avoid gathering. Those who are low risk can travel, dine and shop with a mask, but those who are high risk should only travel if it's essential, should only dine if outdoors with a mask and do takeaway or curbside shoppingNew COVID-19 risk-based guidelines for those who are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated, updated in light of the delta variant. The graphic shows at all stages these people should wear masks when gathering indoors and outdoors, traveling, dining and shopping. At Stage 4 and 5 they should not participate in any of these activities except to get food and shopping done takeaway/curbside-- traveling only when essential under stage 4 and not at all at stage 5.
Slide to the right to see the recommendations for vaccinated people, slide left to see them for partially or unvaccinated people

On Tuesday, Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said there were only two available ICU beds in the 11-county region. Moreover, between July 26 and August 9, at least 759 people were admitted to local hospitals — the highest rate since January.

Austin City Limits’ website indicates that guests must follow all posted safety instructions when they attend the festival but that attendees assume “an inherent risk of exposure” and shoulder all risks when they attend.

The author of the Cancel ACL Fest petition goes on to say, “The pandemic is not over yet, the virus is still mutating. We must do all that we can to stop this super spreader event. Many people without vaccines will be able to attend, many people will become ill. We must ACT NOW!”

KXAN has reached out to Austin City Limits for comment.

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