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Small businesses have struggled through a long and arduous year, working to keep their livelihood afloat in a sea of uncertainty. This holiday season poses the opportunity to not only give gifts to your favorite people but also give back to your favorite local artists, Austin icons and small businesses.
So skip the line and shop small. There are hundreds of businesses to support around Austin, so if nothing here strikes a chord, visit the Austin Independent Business Alliance directory for more.
The Austin Winery
The Austin Winery, located on 440 E. St. Elmo Road, already gives bulk discounts, because let's face it, 2020 has been a rough year. Whether you gift this local wine to someone else or stockpile for the next pandemic, take 20% off a pickup order and get free Austin delivery through the rest of the year.
Away Spa at W. Austin
Give the gift of the oh-so-important self care this year, plus enjoy a little bit of it for yourself as well. With a $250 gift card purchase, receive an extra $25 spa voucher. Located on 200 Lavaca St., Austin residents also receive 20% off of certain services—how can you afford not to go?
Half Price Books
Texas-business Half Price Books is not skimping on the sales this year, and some of the deals even carry over into the new year. Take 20% off of your online book haul and for every $25 gift card you give away, any HPB will give you $5 off in January.
Kendra may not be a "small" business anymore but it started small with Austin roots. From Nov. 29 through Dec. 2, take 25% off of everything (yes, everything!) in the store and an extra 30% off of $300 or more for the "Yellow Friday" sale.
Lilla & Beth
For some unique Austin-centric decor, gifts, clothes and accessories, Lilla & Beth, located on 1911 Aldrich Street, has you covered this year. The more you buy, the more you save so take 10% off purchases under $50, 15% off purchases over $50 and 20% off purchases over $100. Everyone will wish they had gotten you as their secret Santa!
Record Store Crawl
Self-described "magic school bus that takes you to record stores and bars," the 2020 Record Store Crawl will make holiday shopping more fun than ever before. The Record Store Crawl will drive you to 10 record stores in the area, complete with a band on the bus for entertainment. Last year, the event helped sell 2 million records at local retailers nationwide, so this is a great way to have fun and help out the music industry.
Give the gift of relaxation with the help of Roam Homegrown's collection of candles, soaps, scents and self care goodies. To celebrate the holidays, the Austin-based, women-owned company is giving 10% sitewide until Dec. 31. This offer has no minimum so you can gift as much or as little as your heart desires.
Make sure to check business hours before heading out, it is COVID-19 after all.
After reaching Stage 4 last week of Austin Public Health's risk-based guidelines, Austin-Travis County is now at the Stage 5 threshold with a seven-day average of 50 hospitalizations and dwindling ICU capacity.
While unenforceable under Gov. Greg's Abbott order against local mandates, vaccinated individuals are asked to choose drive-through and curbside options, outdoor activities, social interactions with limited group sizes, as well as social distance and wearing masks indoors. Partially or unvaccinated individuals are asked to avoid gatherings, travel, dining and shopping, choose curbside and delivery options, as well as wear a mask on essential trips.
Flashing back to early-pandemic times, hospitals are at critical capacity—the 11 county Trauma Service Region of 2.3 million people is fluctuating at 16 staffed beds, according to APH.
In a statement on behalf of Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White Health and St. David's Healthcare, a spokesperson said that hospitals are asking residents to "help us and each other" by getting vaccinated and continuing to utilize safety practices to slow the spread of the virus.
According to the statement, a "longstanding" nurse staffing challenge combined with the recent COVID-19 spike is putting "extraordinary pressure" on hospital systems.
Along with the unmitigated spread of the virus in unvaccinated, the more contagious Delta variant is also to blame for the spike in cases. The seven-day moving average of COVID hospitalizations in the Austin area reached the Stage 5 threshold of 50 on Friday, triggering local health officials to ask residents to take action.
Local hospitals have a "surge plan" that includes utilization of "all available patient care space and employees within our hospitals and in other settings" that will go into effect when capacity is hit, according to the statement.
The hospitals are working on sourcing supplemental staff and emphasized that emergency care will still be available but it may involve patient transfers "in order to provide the most appropriate care."
Healthcare systems have hit this threshold previously during the pandemic: the city held an alternate care site at the Austin Convention Center from January to March of this year.
"Our responsibility during this pandemic continues to be balancing our readiness to care for patients with COVID-19, while making sure patients who depend on our hospitals receive needed and timely care," the statement said. "We do not want to see necessary non-COVID care delayed as it was during the early stages of the pandemic."
This story has been updated to after publication to include that Austin has reached the Stage 5 threshold.
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Austin legend Willie Nelson will perform at the Texas Capitol today, his first large performance since the pandemic began, closing out a four-day long march across Central Texas to build support for federal voting protections.
Organized by The Poor People's Campaign, the march began in Georgetown on Wednesday and will end with a 10 a.m. rally at the Capitol featuring appearances from former U.S. Congressman Beto O'Rourke and Rev. Dr. William Barber.
Willie Nelson (with Charlie Sexton & friends) will play a free concert at the Poor People's Campaign march for democracy & justice in Austin this Saturday! https://t.co/zZSA0BpbWA
Sign up to join us and see Willie at 10am Saturday: https://t.co/KrDPIFIvST
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) July 29, 2021
The rally calls on Congress to "stop attacks on democracy" by ending the filibuster, pass all provisions of the For the People Act, restore the 1965 Voting Rights Act, raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and pass permanent protections for all 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Nelson denounced election law proposals gaining traction in red states, such as Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 3 in Texas, which 55 House Democrats foiled by fleeing to Washington, D.C., on July 12.
The bills would require additional ID verifications for mail-in ballots, allow partisan poll watchers "free movement" and prohibit elections officials from sending absentee ballot applications to voters who didn't request one.
"Laws making it more difficult for people to vote are unAmerican and are intended to punish people of color, the elderly and disabled," Nelson said. "If you can't win by playing the rules, then it's you and your platform–not everyone else's ability to vote."
The march is in the spirit of the Selma to Montgomery March of 1965, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which protested the blocking of Black Americans' right to vote by Jim Crow laws.