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New Year’s curfew for dine-in services at Austin bars, restaurants announced


AUSTIN (KXAN) — #As the #Austin area continues to see an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations and strain on hospital systems, city and county officials have decided to implement a curfew for in-person food and beverage operations from #Thursday night through #Sunday in hopes of reversing the trend and stopping #New #Year’s gatherings.

#New orders from the #City of #Austin and #Travis #County will place a curfew on dine-in food and beverage services starting #Thursday, #Dec. 31 at 10:30 p.m. and lasting through #Sunday, #Jan. 3 at 6 a.m. #This will not affect takeout, curbside, or delivery options, which can carry on during the curfew’s hours.

The curfew also applies to any venue serving food or drink from an onsite kitchen, food truck, or catering service. #Between 6 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. each day, venues are allowed to continue dine-in operations.

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#This comes as #Austin and #Travis #County leaders are voicing worry over hospitalization numbers and urging the public not to go out for #New #Year’s celebrations.

“The situation is critical,” #Austin-Travis #County #Interim #Health #Authority #Dr. #Mark #Escott said in a statement sent #Tuesday night. “We are asking the public to stay home as much as possible and not gather with people outside their households for #New #Year’s #Eve. #We are asking people to only go out to restaurants for take away, delivery, or drive through services. #We are now experiencing uncontrolled widespread community transmission of COVID-19, particularly in circumstances where masking and distancing are not possible, making bars and similar establishments extremely concerning over this holiday weekend.”

#Tuesday night, #Austin #Mayor #Steve #Adler said he had been meeting throughout the day with #Travis #County #Judge #Andy #Brown and #Escott about how to address the region’s worsening COVID-19 numbers.

#Later, in an interview with KXAN, #Adler explained he expects the #Austin #Code #Department, #Austin #Public #Health, #Austin #Police and the #Travis #County #Fire #Marshal’s #Office to be involved with enforcing these orders.

#Violations of these orders are a criminal offense, the #City of #Austin noted, and are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, but is not punishable with jail time.

“You know, I don’t call this a curfew because in my mind, that gives rise to a lot of things that are much broader than the order we have here. #We are not restricting people’s movements, their ability to be able to travel around, their ability to go to the drug store or the grocery store if you’re out at night. #So I think what is more descriptive is, kind of just the modification of operations for restaurants, I think that’s probably the most apt description because this is so narrowly drawn just to cover that.”

#Austin #Mayor #Steve #Adler speaking to KXAN on #December 29, 2020 about the new orders.

#Adler explained to KXAN while the order does not limit people from leaving their residences after 10:30 p.m. during #New #Year’s weekend, he and other local officials are recommending that #Austinites not go out after 10:30 p.m. to avoid the spread of the virus.

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#Adler reiterated that #Austin does not allow gatherings of groups larger than ten presently and that city and county officials are urging people not to gather with people who are not in your household at this time.

“I know it’s hard, but we are asking for this #New #Year’s #Eve holiday, to celebrate it with the people that are in your household,” #Adler said.

KXAN will be covering a live press conference at 10:30 a.m. on #Wednesday with #Austin and #Travis #County leaders about this new order.

#Joining other concerned cities

#After actions taken this fall by #El #Paso and #San #Antonio to curb the spread of the virus, #Austin becomes the third #Texas city to impose a curfew specifically to curb COVID-19 spread.

#El #Paso #County officials implemented curfews in #October, #November and during #Christmas, with another curfew for #New #Year’s from #Dec. 30 to #Jan. 4 from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

#San #Antonio and #Bexar #County leaders issued partial curfews over the #Thanksgiving holiday from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. #San #Antonio did not have a curfew over the #Christmas holidays.

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#This is the first time during the pandemic that #Austin and #Travis #County have imposed a curfew.

#Last week in #Houston, #Harris #County #Judge #Lina #Hidalgo tweeted while the county would not be issuing a curfew at that moment, “we’re not ruling it out as a last resort if the situation gets worse.”  #Travis #County #Judge #Andy #Brown retweeted her message.

‘We are running out of time’

#Escott said #Monday, “If we continue to see an upward trend, then we are going to have discussions about the possibility of a curfew toward the end of this week, to help mitigate that risk.”

#Since he made that comment, hospitalizations in the #Austin #Metropolitan #Statistical #Area have continued to rise.

COVID-19 hospitalization data from #Austin #Public #Health as reported on #December 29, 2020 at 6:15 p.m. #Screenshot from #Austin #Public #Health #Dashboard.

There were 404 COVID-19 hospitalizations on #Sunday, 422 COVID-19 hospitalizations on #Monday and 434 hospitalizations on #Tuesday in the #Austin MSA.

ICU admissions in the #Austin MSA spiked significantly this week, remaining consistent over the past two days with 136 admissions on #Sunday, 132 on #Monday and 138 on #Tuesday.

“We don’t have much capacity left in hospitals and ICUs to take chances this weekend,” #Escott noted.

#On #Tuesday, #Travis #County reported 697 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily case total the county has seen since #July 9.

#Charts can be swiped left and right. #Tap to explore the data

#On #Tuesday, during a #Facebook #Live briefing with #Travis #County #Judge #Andy #Brown, #Escott said he expects the COVID-19 testing numbers are higher than the current dashboard reflects over #Christmas due to people opting not to get tested on the holiday week.

“My expectation is that this number will climb significantly this week and we will resume this upward trajectory that we saw leading up to #Christmas,” he said.

The daily moving average of cases for the #Austin area, #Escott noted, is approaching the levels the region saw during its summer COVID-19 surge.

#Escott said #Tuesday the most recent projections from UT #Austin’s COVID-19 modeling consortium show #Christmas and #New #Year’s gatherings as a “one-two-punch” which will lead to a dramatic increase in hospitalizations and ICU admissions over the next two weeks.

These projections from UT, #Escott explained, are not a crystal ball showing what will happen but rather a portrayal of what is most likely to happen if COVID-19 transmission continues the way it is today.

#Austin #Public #Health’s data on the 7 day moving average for new COVID-19 hospital admissions in the #Austin #Metropolitan #Statistical #Area on #December 29, 2020, at 6:15 p.m. #Screenshot from #Austin #Public #Health #Dashboard.

#As of #Tuesday evening, the seven-day moving average for new hospital admissions for the #Austin MSA is at 63.4, a level #Austin hasn’t seen since #July 20. #Escott said the UT models project that if current transmission continues, the moving average for hospital admissions will hit 80 and go “off the chart.”

The median projections from the UT models show #Austin will exceed its 200 bed ICU capacity by #Jan. 6 or 7 and will require 300 ICU beds by #Jan. 14; 400 beds by #Jan. 21; and 500 beds by #Jan. 28.

#Projections from the UT #Austin #Modeling #Consortium on daily COVID-19 hospital admissions in the #Austin MSA. The blue line represents the median projection for COVID-19 hospitalizations. #Data presented by #Dr. #Mark #Escott, #Austin’s #Interim #Health #Authority in a #Facebook #Live with #Travis #County #Judge #Andy #Brown on #December 29, 2020.

#Escott clarified while there are more than 200 ICU beds in the #Austin area, once the region has 200 ICU beds full, care will be impacted for people who need ICUs for other emergencies like car accidents or heart attacks.

“You can’t possibly care for 500 intensive care patients as well as you can care for 500 or 200,” #Escott said #Tuesday. “What we’ve seen in all those places that have experienced that [number of ICU patients] is the death rate goes up substantially, sometimes triple the case fatality rate in those circumstances. #So it is serious, we have to act now, we are running out of time.”

“This is massive and unsustainable growth,” #Escott said of the projected increase, explaining these numbers are why he said the #Austin area may enter the new year in a “state of emergency.”

“Looking at these projections, if you can’t do something with a mask on and distanced, you shouldn’t be doing it,” he emphasized.

#Escott said #Monday the average of new hospital admissions is up 106% since the beginning of #December, and new admissions to intensive care units are up 62% since a week ago. #Escott said at this rate, ICUs in the area could run out of beds in a week.

#Projections from the UT #Austin #Modeling #Consortium on daily COVID-19 ICU admissions in the #Austin MSA. #Data presented by #Dr. #Mark #Escott, #Austin’s #Interim #Health #Authority in a #Facebook #Live with #Travis #County #Judge #Andy #Brown on #December 29, 2020.

#New #Year’s concerns

#On #Monday, #Escott said bars operating as restaurants on #New #Year’s #Eve are his number one concern ahead of the holiday in terms of escalating COVID-19 risk. “We need them to close,” he said. “They’re putting public health at risk.”

#On #Tuesday, #Escott said of the public health stakes as #New #Year’s approaches “it’s important our community understands: this is a lockdown situation, these are the kind of numbers we would see when we would want to recommend a lockdown.”

“We don’t have to order that,” #Escott continued, “People can choose to lock themselves down, to stay home, to make those decisions that are gonna decrease transmission, and that’s what we need people to do.”

#Austin #Public #Health #Director #Stephanie #Hayden also asked the public on #Monday to “take the lowest possible risk” on #New #Year’s #Eve by staying home and only doing things with those they live with.
“What is going to be your #New #Year’s resolutions?” she said. “Are you going to be safe? #Are you going to make good decisions? #Those are things we can easily check off by saying, ‘I’m going to stay at home. I want to be safe, and I’m going to think about others, as well, so that I don’t bring COVID-19 into my home.’”

“We have seen a pattern where COVID cases increase significantly after holidays, and today we are in the middle of the holiday season: #Christmas, #Hannukah, #Kwanza and leading into #New #Year’s #Eve,” #Travis #County #Judge #Andy #Brown said on #Tuesday in a #Livestream on his #Facebook page. “Our COVID numbers, deaths, patients and ICU [admissions] continue to climb right here in #Travis #County.”

#Brown noted the region’s COVID-19 positivity rate is creeping up, particularly for the #Latinx and #African #American residents of the #Austin area.

“We’ve asked all of you to sacrifice a lot this year already, I know that, and right now we are asking you to cancel your #New #Year’s #Eve celebrations as this is not the time to gather with people outside your home and with people who you don’t live within your home,” #Brown added.

#Austin #Mayor #Steve #Adler posted on #Twitter #Tuesday morning, encouraging #Austinites to participate in the city’s virtual #New #Year’s #Eve celebration.





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https://www.kxan.com/news/coronavirus/new-years-curfew-for-austin-bars-restaurants-announced-as-covid-19-hospitalizations-surge/

##Years #curfew #dinein #services ##Austin #bars #restaurants #announced

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