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Mass events, such as Austin City Limits, are unlikely to occur as normal at least through the end of the year, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said during a press conference earlier today.

"We are working on a plan to help forecast what we think is going to be reasonable, but looking through the end of December, we don't have any indications at this stage that we would be able to mitigate risk enough to have large events, particularly ones over 2,500 [people]," he said.

The ACL music festival, which takes place over two weekends in October, has not yet been canceled or changed. And the athletics director of the University of Texas is confident Longhorn football will return this fall—possibly on a modified schedule or without fans in the stands.

But myriad other events, including nearly 100 local festivals, have been canceled, rescheduled or put on hold as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Escott said Austin would need to lower its risk level—according to a color-coded chart Austin Public Health released last week—before larger events could be considered.

The current risk level is Stage 3, which recommends social gatherings don't exceed 10 people.

At Stage 1, the guidelines allow for gatherings in larger groups, the reopening of all businesses and an end to social distancing and masking. But Dr. Escott said we are unlikely to return to something close to normal until a vaccine is widely available.

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(Charlie L. Harper III)

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