ACL parent company requiring proof of vaccination for festivals, putting ACL guidelines into question
Austin City Limits Festival 2021 is just under two months away and with COVID cases surging across the city, Austinites are wondering what will become of the festival this year.
Entertainment company Live Nation, which is a majority stakeholder in ACL and other C3 Presents-run festivals like Lollapalooza, announced over the weekend that it would require all artists, crew and attendees to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for all shows starting Oct. 4, the day after weekend one of ACL ends.
The new rule's timing makes it unclear what COVID precautions will be taken for the first and second weekend of the festival. Will both weekends require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test?
According to Senate Bill 968 section 14, Texas businesses cannot "require a customer to provide any documentation certifying the customer's COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery" in order to enter or receive services from the establishment. Last week, the bill came into practice as two local restaurants Fresa's and Launderette, almost had their state licenses revoked for requiring proof of vaccination to dine indoors.
However, negative COVID-19 tests may be on the table as the bill cannot be used to "restrict a business from implementing COVID-19 screening and infection control protocols in accordance with state and federal law to protect public health."
Austonia reached out to ACL organizers on the festival's COVID safety protocols but did not receive a response. According to its website, ACL will follow current recommendations in place at the time of the festival and will alert patrons of safety policies as the festival approaches.
Before the decision, fellow Chicago festival Lollapalooza required either proof of vaccine or a negative COVID test to attend. The decision was successful in avoiding a superspreader event; a Lollapalooza spokesperson said that 12% of attendees cited the festival as their reason to get vaccinated.
In addition to concert rules, Live Nation will require all employees to be vaccinated to come into the office. The entertainment giant further clarified that starting in October, the guidelines will be mandated where permitted by law in certain states.
"Vaccines are going to be your ticket back to shows, and as of Oct. 4, we will be following the model we developed for Lollapalooza and requiring this for artists, fans and employees at Live Nation venues and festivals everywhere possible in the U.S.," Live Nation president and CEO Michael Rapino said in a statement.
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Austin parents and grocery store shelves are feeling the effects of a nationwide baby formula shortage.
Caused mostly by a February recall due to contamination issues, followed by the Abbott Nutrition factory closure in Michigan, the shortage has left Austin shelves barren. However, earlier this week, U.S. officials announced a plan with the facility to restart production.
In the meantime, local parents in crisis have turned toward the Mother’s Milk Bank to keep their babies fed.
HEB on East 7th has been picked clean of formula and is limiting purchases. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
The milk bank—which takes donations from lactating mothers and dispenses milk to babies in the NICU—has been helping feed upwards of 30 families in need as the formula supply tightens.
According to the bank’s executive director Kim Updegrove, Mother’s Milk Bank has seen an uptick in calls from parents with healthy babies in need of help since the shortage began.
“We aren't used to hearing from families with healthy infants,” Updegrove said. “They're typically very upset, angry, frustrated, sobbing—it's scary to not be able to feed your infants. So in the past few weeks, those calls have been significantly increasing.”
Mothers are only able to donate if they are within a year postpartum, so Updegrove said they are constantly bringing on and retiring donors. While donors had been on a 30% decline leftover from 2021 when the shortage began, Updegrove said the shortage has led to mass community interest and more than 90 prospective donors in just the past few days.
“We and other milk banks are experiencing significant interest from the community—becoming milk donors and helping to turn around this crisis,” Updegrove said. “Every infant needs to be fed, every one of us can relate to that need, and we need to make sure as a community that it happens.”
Whole Foods downtown was also cleaned out of typical formula. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
While you may still be able to find formula at places like Whole Foods—which currently has goat milk, soy and plant-based formula in stock—Updegrove said it might not be what a baby needs.
Updegrove said it is best to buy types that say “infant formula,” as they are FDA approved and will provide the nutrients, vitamins and minerals a baby needs. Plant-based, homemade, non-cow's milk or diluting formula may not provide the same nutritional value.
As the community navigates the shortage, Updegrove said the most important way to help out is to not panic buy or stockpile.
“This is a crisis for families,” Updegrove said. “This is the time for the community to gather together and figure out what everyone can do to help families with young infants.”
Next time you’re sitting at a red light in Austin, you may look over and see a car without a person at the driver’s wheel.
Autonomous vehicle tech company Argo AI has brought driverless operations to Austin and Miami, starting out with only company employees using the service. Later on, tests with Lyft and Walmart will carry out ride-sharing and grocery delivery services, with the help of a human safety operator. The company has already made moves on this front in Miami Beach where some Lyft passengers have used its autonomous vehicles with a human operator.
While its platform is designed for integration with multiple vehicle types, the test fleet uses the Ford Escape Hybrid and VW's all-electric ID.Buzz.
The Pittsburgh-based company says this progress on its autonomy platform has been more than five years in the making and boasted about reaching this milestone before others.
"Argo is first to go driverless in two major American cities, safely operating amongst heavy traffic, pedestrians and bicyclists in the busiest of neighborhoods," said Bryan Salesky, Founder and CEO of Argo AI.
Expect to see the autonomous cars on the road during daytime business hours as the tech aims to learn from a diversity of road infrastructure and driving behaviors.
The company, which is testing in eight cities in the U.S. and Europe, has brought its tech to Austin as the company looks to expand in densely-populated cities. In particular, Argo is looking at ridesharing, delivery and logistics companies for integrating its autonomous vehicles into their digital services.
Argo anticipates its service availability to someday cover more than 15 million people in Austin, Miami and Washington D.C.
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