Many calls about COVID-19 violations in Austin, few citations issued over the weekend

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Data from the City of Austin shows plenty of people reported gatherings that may have been in violation with state COVID-19 orders, however investigators did not respond to most and a only a handful of citations were issued.

Across town, data shows Austin 311 got more than 170 calls about potential COVID-19 violations Saturday and Sunday. According to the city, the Austin Police Department’s dispatch center took in at least 45 more.

However, the city says police responded to 17 of those calls, and firefighters responded to seven. The Austin Fire Department issued five citations, the city says.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission also had investigators out. We’re told that of the 11 violations statewide the TABC cited over the weekend, one was in Austin on 6th Street.

Chris Porter, public information officer for the TABC, says that bar will receive a citation for a social distancing issue. Once the bar is served its citation, the TABC will release its name.

Porter says the TABC takes complaints and randomly checks in on bars for violations, however, it’s a more involved process to make sure bars that have opened under a restaurant reclassification, by selling food, are following rules.

“We also have a number of TABC auditors, who are really the ones that bear down on that regulatory side, where they go and inspect records of sales and records of food and beverage sales to make sure that people are in compliance with the governor’s executive orders,” Porter said.

Porter adds the agency encourages patrons who are out at bars and witness a potential violation to contact the TABC directly.

“We want people let us know so we can ensure that we send our resources to where they’re needed most, to make sure that any potential violations are addressed, before they become a serious public safety issue,” Porter said.

In the case of a large party in the West Campus area Saturday afternoon, several people made reports to the city that went unanswered for hours.

Lots of young people with few masks on could be seen ignoring mass gathering rules at 1100 West 22 1/2 Street. The city says the party there received 10 complaints.

Even though APD received several of those service requests, the city says police never responded. According to the city, the Code Department did respond, but not until 5 p.m., once the party had dissolved.

KXAN has reached out to APD asking why officers didn’t respond while the party was happening for hours but has not yet received a response.

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