AUSTIN (KXAN) — Just this week, Austin-Travis County health leaders made the call to move back to Stage 4 of its COVID-19 risk-based guidelines because of a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

City leaders are now asking people to take precautions this weekend and celebrate the new year safely, and those recommendations include watching the city’s fireworks from afar.

“If the numbers continue to get worse in our city because people are not doing it voluntarily then we’re going to have to take a look at additional restrictions and no one wants to go there, so we’re asking everyone to do their part and protect one another in a voluntary way,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said.

They’re asking that you “be dazzled from a distance” as the city sets off its fireworks from Vic Mathias Shores to welcome in the New Year Friday night.

“At this time of year when we want to celebrate the ringing of a new year and celebrate the new changes that we’re seeing and hopes and dreams that we have; it’s really important that we do so in intimate gatherings with people that we live with, and try to work together to decrease the spread and the number of cases that are developing in our community,” Dr. Desmar Walkes, the local health authority said.

Walkes said the fireworks will go as planned but that they expect people not to gather to watch the show.

“That is to be viewed from afar. There are no plans for gathering. There are no vendors, no bands,” Walkes said in a media Q&A last week. “We are expecting people to view it from their vehicles or in the downtown area people may be able to look at it through their windows.”

They plan to televise the fireworks show starting at 10 p.m. If the community cannot slow the spread, Adler believes we could move to Stage 5 soon.

“The numbers are increasing so rapidly. It looks pretty precarious. It looks like this city could easily be moving into those kinds of numbers next week or in early January which is why we’re asking everybody to try to do everything they can to try to moderate the impact of this virus, but it’s accelerating,” Adler said.

In years past, families would gather at Vic Mathias Shores to hear live music, watch the fireworks and enjoy family-friendly activities, but that hasn’t happened since 2019. Last year, the city celebrated the new year by showcasing eight local band and music venues hit hard by the pandemic.

If you plan to watch the fireworks, here’s what you need to know.

When: Friday, Dec. 31 at 10 p.m.

Where: Vic Mathias Shores, but health leaders are asking you to watch from a distance this year

Watch online:

  • On-line:
  • Spectrum Cable: Channel 6 
  • Grande Communications : Channel 6  
  • AT&T U-Verse: Channel 99 
  • ATXN is now available on AppleTV + Roku. On either device download the ATXN app to watch from these channels.

Road closures: There will be road closures in the area that will start at 8 p.m. through roughly midnight. Those closures are:

  • Riverside Drive from Lee Barton to S. 1st Street
  • 1st St Bridge
Road closures for New Year's Eve
Road closures for New Year’s Eve (courtesy City of Austin)

You can also tune into the Lone Star NYE special on KXAN from 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.