Austin musicians, venues ramp up COVID-19 safety measures as area moves to Stage 5

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some music venues and musicians are starting to take COVID-19 safety into their own hands.

Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order doesn’t allow local governmental entities and jurisdictions to mandate masks or require vaccine proof before entering a place or receiving a service.

But some venues and artists are starting to limit where they do shows, scaling back capacity and even enforcing masks.

Lauryn Gould with the Meow Now Brass Band says they’ve canceled all their indoor shows.

“We were about to start a weekly residency that we’ve all been really looking forward to, so that was kind of heartbreaking,” Gould said.

  • Meow Now Brass Band says they've canceled all their indoor shows as COVID-19 cases rise in Austin-Travis County (KXAN Photo/Tahera Rahman)
  • Meow Now Brass Band says they've canceled all their indoor shows as COVID-19 cases rise in Austin-Travis County (KXAN Photo/Tahera Rahman)
  • Meow Now Brass Band says they've canceled all their indoor shows as COVID-19 cases rise in Austin-Travis County (KXAN Photo/Tahera Rahman)

She says it’s hard to scale back again when gigs were slowly returning to pre-shutdown levels.

“Especially when it’s such a preventable situation, it’s very frustrating,” she said, but added they feel it’s the safest thing to do.

Gould is part of 10 different bands and her husband is also a full-time musician. She says they’re almost all on the same page.

“The unemployment assistance is gone, there’s not as many grants available, so, it’s scary,” she said.

Austin City Limits Live announced Thursday one of its bands, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, is requiring masks for entry and proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours of each show.

“I’m happy that the musicians are actually asking for it,” said Martin Wise, an Austinite hoping to attend one of those shows.

He feels more comfortable going to the event.

“I think it’s prudent, and I don’t think it’s invasive. It’s responsible for civil society,” he said.

Hotel Vegas, a live music venue on East 6th Street, is requiring masks for all customers indoors and encouraging them outdoors in crowds for their anniversary celebrations this weekend.

The Continental Club, The Continental Club Gallery and C-Boy’s Heart & Soul are also currently operating at 75% capacity.

“Because bands & customers have asked several times about our Covid protocols and policies and Austin-Travis County officials just announced on Aug 5, we have re-entered Stage 5 of the Covid-19 risk based guidelines,” they posted to Facebook on Thursday.

Gould says her band has been hesitant to ask their venues to enforce more COVID-19 rules, since they’d have to enforce them. But she hopes to see more of it.

“I’m heartened to see that, because I think the more we come together as a community and just kind of take a stand that, that this is what we need to keep each other safe and healthy, the more it’ll empower others to do the same thing,” she said.

She also hopes the city does more to support them.

“The city government has tried to help in fits and starts, but I feel like they could step up their leadership even more in this situation,” Gould said.

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