AUSTIN (KXAN) — Music venues in Austin now have guidelines for reopening when the time comes, according to a Friday release from the city.
The guide paints a picture of what the “Live Music Capital of the World” could look like after coronavirus: Artists (and their fans) could be more spread out; venues could have more plexiglass, six-foot-distance reminders and hand-washing options; and more people could be wearing masks.
The Reopening Every Venue Safely campaign, which is made up of industry leaders, worked with the city on a set of best practices for keeping music playing and keeping people safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The group called its guide a “living document” that could be updated depending on circumstances within the city. It would be up to venue owners and operators to implement any of the proposals.
“We know we can’t reopen right now, but we need to be prepared for the new normal when reopening happens,” said Bobby Garza with Music Cities Together. “The REVS guide is intended to help our industry plan for what that looks like.”
The guide outlines what owners, operators, artists and venue staff can do before, during and after shows to minimize the spread of COVID-19. It proposes both free and more expensive options.
When it comes to guests, for example, the guide suggests low-cost options of creating a health and safety marketing campaign and sending each attendee safety tips ahead of a show. More expensive options for keeping guests safe includes implementing digital ticketing, putting markers in place to encourage social distancing or creating a notification system to let people know if someone at a show has tested positive.
“The fact of the matter is live shows may struggle making the economics work at 25 or 50% capacity,” the guide’s introduction states. “Our interest here is not to advocate for reopening, but to providing one piece of the safe reopening puzzle around people and tangible actions to get venues prepared with knowledge and information.”
Austin and Travis County are still in Stage 4 of the COVID-19 risk stages, which means people should avoid gatherings of more than 10 people — although the city says even smaller family gatherings are risky — and avoid non-essential travel. The city says it is still concerned about the number of people in local hospitals’ intensive care units and “there is continued risk for further shutdowns if personal safety precautions are not taken.”
A survey released at the beginning of July showed a majority of live Austin music venues are in danger of closing by the end of October if something doesn’t change. The survey polled 1,050 participants and showed 62% of live music venues and 55% of restaurant bars in the Austin area say they can endure for the next four months (or less) under current conditions.
The City of Austin is also working on general event reopening guidelines, which it is creating alongside Austin Public Health, the Austin Convention Center, the Austin Center for Events and others. It expects to have that outlined within the next month.