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City Approves Austin City Limits' COVID Safety Plan, Setting Up Final Approval Ahead Of The Festival

 A view of the ACL Fest main stage in 2018.
Julia Reihs
A view of the ACL Fest main stage in 2018.

Austin City Limits is one step closer to getting the final OK from the city to return to Zilker Park for an in-person festival next week.

Organizers and the city announced Tuesday morning that the festival's COVID safety plan has been approved. The approval comes as Austin is seeing a dip in coronavirus hospitalizations and new cases.

ACL attendees must show proof of vaccination or test negative for COVID-19 no more than three days before going to the festival. Vaccinated fest-goers do not have to get tested ahead of the event, but they will be required to present printed copies of vaccination or negative tests, ACL says.

Per the city's guidelines, the festival will also have areas in which masking is required, including the front of stages, indoor areas, festival shuttles and admission lines to get into Zilker Park. Organizers will be handing out free masks.

In an announcement, city and Austin Public Health officials said the festival's plan was mindful of the burden the latest COVID surge had placed on Austin area hospitals and that they don't foresee the festival putting undue strain on the health care system.

APH Medical Director Dr. Desmar Walkes said Tuesday morning that Austin's recent surge of delta variant cases is, for now, on the downslope.

“We see more people masking and getting vaccinated and we remain cautiously optimistic that we are slowing the surge," she said.

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ACL is 10 days away from kicking off on Oct. 1, but its final permit hasn't yet been approved. The city says that's not out of the ordinary.

Organizers were forced to forego an in-person festival last year, and for a time it was unclear whether the festival would do the same this year.

With the approval of the health and safety plan, ACL must now get final approval from the city's Center for Events. That multi-departmental approval takes time and final permits are often issued days before large-scale events. For context, ACL's last in-person festival permits were approved eight days before the first weekend kicked off in 2019.

This week, the city began closing streets around Zilker Park ahead of weekend one. You can see a full schedule of road closures here or check out the map below.

Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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