Moving in the right direction

Austin moves down to Stage 3 of COVID-19 guidelines ahead of spring festival season

Austin moves down to Stage 3 of COVID-19 guidelines ahead of SXSW

Covid-19 omicron variant
While Stage 3 is an improvement, health officials are still encouraging Austinites to mask up.  Cleveland Clinic

KVUE — Public health officials announced Tuesday, March 1 that Austin-Travis County has moved down to Stage 3 of the area’s COVID-19 risk-based guidelines.

The latest shift comes less than two weeks after the area moved from Stage 5 to Stage 4. Austin-Travis County moved back to Stage 4 on February 24. At the time, health experts said they were cautiously optimistic about the area’s COVID-19 outlook.

Despite the move down to Stage 3, Austin Public Health officials are still “strongly” recommending indoor mask use through the end of the “festival season.” The 2022 South By Southwest festival is scheduled for Friday, March 11 through Sunday, March 20.

Since the peak in January, COVID-19 metrics have continued to decline. Officials track the seven-day average of hospital admissions, community transmission rate and positivity rate to determine the COVID-19 risk-based guidelines. As of Monday, February 28, the seven-day moving average of new hospital admissions was 20, the community transmission rate was 61.3 and the positivity rate was 6.8 percent.

For a look at the City’s key staging indicators in real time, click here

What is different in Stage 3?

In Stage 3, APH officials recommend that residents participate in indoor private gatherings with precautions and say they may participate in outdoor gatherings without precautions. High-risk individuals may dine with precautions, while low-risk individuals may dine without precautions. Shopping may be done without precautions, while travel may be done with precautions.

Again, despite the above recommendations, APH officials are still strongly recommending masking for now.

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