Austin Public Health officials no longer recommend fully vaccinated people mask or distance in most situations as a result of continuing declines in new reported COVID-19 cases and updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Austin-Travis County is now in Stage 2 for the first time since the start of the pandemic. At this stage, public health officials recommend:
- Fully vaccinated individuals can participate in private indoor and outdoor gatherings as well as dine and shop without masking or distancing, if allowed by the business
- Partially vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals can gather privately, dine and shop with masking and distancing
- Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, can travel with masking and distancing
"If you're vaccinated, you're very well protected," Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott told local elected officials Tuesday. "If you're unvaccinated, you're not."
The local risk-based guidelines do not affect local rules or regulations for businesses. Some venues and schools may impose additional requirements regardless of vaccination status or stage.
Additionally, the local health authority rules, which were updated Tuesday and renewed through June 15, encouraged fully vaccinated individuals to wear a mask and distance when the risk of transmission to those who are not fully vaccinated is significant. Partially or unvaccinated individuals should mask, distance and avoid crows and poorly ventilated spaces in most circumstances.
The CDC announced Thursday that it no longer recommends fully vaccinated individuals mask or distance in most circumstances. Exceptions include public transit, airplanes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters.
The decision arrived after updated data showed the effectiveness of vaccines against the virus and its variants; it also showed COVID is unlikely to be transmitted between vaccinated people.
More than 60% of the Travis County population 12 and older are partially vaccinated and nearly 48% are fully vaccinated as of Monday afternoon, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
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The original Z’Tejas location on West 6th Street is closing its doors after more than 30 years on the lot to make way for new development.
Z'Tejas owner Randy Cohen told Austonia the restaurant will be open at least through the end of 2022, possibly through March 2023.
Cohen said the owners—Larry McGuire of McGuire Moorman Lambert Hospitality—of the land have something new planned, though he’s not exactly sure what. Additionally, Cohen said maintenance costs for the old building were becoming prohibitively expensive.
“I think the people who own the dirt will tear it all down and build condos or some other development,” Cohen said. “I mean, it's a 60-year-old building, Z'Tejas has been here for 33 years and before that, it was something else. So it's just progress, that's all."
The restaurant isn’t going away though—Cohen said Z’Tejas is already looking for a new spot in the downtown area to move into. Z’Tejas also has a location in Avery Ranch, another in the works for Kyle and two in Arizona.
“We have all our ducks in a row right now and the management team is all rowing in the right direction,” Cohen said. “We're just excited, we're excited to build this iconic brand back.”
Once he finds a new place, Cohen plans to bring along its mural, “The Last Zupper,” which features Willie Nelson, Matthew McConaughey and Barbara Jordan. Cohen also plans for the adjoining ghost kitchen, Woo Woo Burgers, to follow to the new downtown location.
“We're still booking events through the end of December,” Cohen said. “Come ‘Z' me at Z’Tejas, we'd love to see you before we’re gone.”
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Two towers could be coming just south of the Austin American-Statesman’s former headquarters in the South Central Waterfront district.
According to city filings, the proposed planned unit development agreement is set for 200 East Riverside Drive, an area Project Connect’s Blue Line is slated to pass by someday.
Carrying this out involves removing the existing building, which is a state office complex and surface parking.
The new towers in place would reach just over 400 feet at their maximum and include office space and space for retail on the ground level. The mix of office and retail is a trend that’s been cropping up in downtown sites like the Perennial and the Meta tower.
The proposal on a plot of about four acres aims to incorporate green infrastructure and create a lively environment for pedestrians. It’d also be adjacent to the 118-acres of the South Central Waterfront Initiative, which is aimed at enhancing connections to and along the waterfront over the next couple of decades.
The filing lists architects STG Design, a group involved with work on the sailboat-like Google tower.
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