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Austin's COVID-19 risk has been moved from Stage 5 to Stage 4 effective Tuesday, according to Austin Public Health authorities.

Under Stage 4, experts recommend Austinites avoid non-essential travel and gatherings over 10 people. Masking and social distancing should still be maintained when in contact with those who are not members of one's immediate household. While Stage 5 recommends not dining out, Stage 4 gives the ok to dine out. Businesses may operate between 25-50% capacity. Schools should limit attendance at sporting events to those participating in those events.

Officials expected to move to Stage 4 in the second half of February. Although hospitalization levels are still at Stage 5 rates, levels continue to be on a downward trend. Officials also said Austin could go back into Stage 5 as a result of Super Bowl weekend gatherings.

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As Texas gets ready to lift the mandatory mask mandate on March 10, food and bar workers gathered at the Texas Capitol to express their frustration with the lack of COVID-19 precautions without adequate access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

The event, which began at 1 p.m. on Monday, was hosted by the Austin chapter of Democratic Socialists of America, Restaurant Organizing Project and The Amplified Sound Coalition.
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Stacey Abrams spoke during the 2019 SXSW festival. This year, she's a keynote speaker in the festival's virtual event. (Danny Matson/Getty Images for SXSW)

The world has changed drastically over the past year, and South by Southwest, one of Austin's most beloved institutions, has, too.

After being abruptly canceled by the city last year, one week before it was set to kick-off due to the increasing understanding of the potential impact of COVID-19, it returns this year in a virtual format March 16-20.

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(Austin Public Health/Twitter)

Austin Public Health will release first dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments on a weekly basis starting Monday evening. The specific days and number of appointments made available will depend on the weekly allocation from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Previously, APH released first dose appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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