New Year’s Eve city curfew falls in line with governor's order to not shut down cities, Austin officials say
In response to the continued spike in COVID-19 cases and concerns over hospitals reaching capacity, Austin-Travis County leaders officially announced plans to implement a three-day curfew on dine-in food and beverage establishments to discourage large gatherings during New Year's weekend.
In a written statement, Mayor Steve Adler announced that restaurant and beverage operations are expected to close their dining rooms between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. The curfew will be in place beginning Dec. 31 and continuing through Jan. 3. Violation of this order could result in a misdemeanor and a fine of up to $1,000.
Under the curfew, venues may still operate between 10:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. using drive-thru, curbside pick-up, take-out or delivery services, according to the statement.
Austin officials are encouraging residents to take advantage of takeout and delivery services to support businesses, as New Year's Eve is normally one of the busiest nights of the year.
Despite the order not requiring a total shutdown, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott responded in a tweet yesterday saying: "This shutdown order by Austin isn't allowed. Period."
The Texas Attorney General's Office backed the governor by tweeting the "shutdown" is a violation of Abbott's Executive Order GA-32. The office added that Austin-Travis County "must rescind or modify their local orders immediately."
During a press conference on Wednesday, Adler said the curfew does not violate Abbott's Executive Order because it is an "operational constraint" and does not require restaurants and bars to shut down.
"The reason that we're doing this is because it focuses on the activity where people are together without wearing masks, and that's what the experts tell us is the single biggest point of potential risk," Adler said. "We have a narrowly tailored order with an emphasis on operational change."
Adler also said the order will be enforced with officers on patrol throughout the nights the curfew is in effect. However, he emphasized that the city cannot enforce its way to flattening the curve and the city is asking residents and businesses to do the right thing for their community.
"(Restaurants are) getting hit much greater than most other industries in the city," Adler said. "The people in these businesses are taking a severe and significant financial hit for the greater good and we as a community can help mitigate that."
With a 200% increase in hospitalization since the beginning of the month and ICU utilization up 50% in the last eight days, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said he is worried that Austin will enter the new year in a state of emergency.
"We're asking people to do the right thing," Escott said. "We're asking people to love your neighbors and to not hold those parties which we know are dangerous. We're in a time where we have to limit the risk as much as we can to avoid an overwhelming surge, where by the end of January we need 1,500 hospital beds and more than 500 ICU beds that we just don't have."
This story was updated to include details from the press conference earlier today.
Austin FC couldn't find the stamina to fight off a 2-0 loss against LAFC for their inaugural match on Saturday.
The match, which saw No. 21 Austin FC go head-to-head with No. 2 LAFC in Los Angeles, was broadcast nationally on FOX and FOX Deportes.
Salute the support. 👏
It's only the beginning for @AustinFC. pic.twitter.com/TduorqYr2y
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 18, 2021
Eleven players took the stage as Austin FC players for the first time, with five starters making their MLS debut. "Ringleader" Alex Ring took the captain's armband and wore it well. The defensive midfielder could be seen leading his teammates through their first ever match, but it wasn't enough to stage an Austin takeover in LA.
In the signature style of Head Coach Josh Wolff, the team played with quickness and intensity, nearly connecting on several fast breaks. It was harder for them to stay in front, however, something that Wolff credits with quick decision making and a tough LAFC defense.
"We have a quick attacking team, but I think when you make quick attacks and it fizzles it's just about some decision making," Wolff said. "Are we in position to finish attacks? If not, can we reestablish our attack and get stuff better?"
The club was given some generous breaks from No. 2 LAFC, who had one or both of their star DPs out for the half. While forward Diego Rossi is out for the entire match due to a hamstring injury, Carlos Vela was accidentally pulled too soon on what turned out to be a miscommunication.
"He gave us the sign that he needed to come off," LAFC Head Coach Bob Bradley said on broadcast. "I can't say more than maybe it's my fault."
LA pulled some dramatics and slowly gained more possession throughout the half, but ATXFC's defense wasn't initially as shaky as it seemed in preseason. Jhohan Romana has pulled his weight in getting the ball out of goal, and a 34-year old Matt Besler held his own in center back.
As the second half commenced, however, it became clear that LAFC had the advantage over Austin's first major league team.
Goalkeeper Brad Stuver had his work cut out for him, fending off 24 shot attempts, 11 of which were on goal. He didn't have much time to prepare, either: in the first 30 seconds of play, Stuver had already made a save to keep the match 0-0.
LAFC finally connected in the 61st minute of play as Corey Baird shot one into the bottom right corner. The team capitalized off their momentum and put one past Stuver a second time, drawing roars of approval from the LAFC crowd.
While some last-minute attempts from Jon Gallagher and others were made, Austin FC didn't have the endurance to bring a tie. After seven additional minutes of stoppage time, the club lost their first match 2-0.
While the scoreboard tells one story, Wolff said that the team did well considering the skill of LAFC and the pressure of their club debut.
"We've got to be realistic," Wolff said. "This is the first time this organization has been in front of TV with an opportunity to show itself and I think there were some promising moments. And we're going to maximize those and continue to try to develop those, but there's lots to build on."
The team may have lost, but it still won the support of thousands of Verde fans, dozens of which made it to watch their team's first match. When Stuver and the team made it to bthe stadium, Los Verdes fans were already there to show support, and Stuver said his wife saw the same back in Austin.
"The moment that we pulled into the stadium, we saw Black and Verde fans cheering us on as we got to the stadium," Stuver said. "During warm up, you can just look around and see different groups sitting in different sections of the stadium and it's just truly amazing to see the support in our first game. We know that we want to give the fans everything, because this we play for the city and we play for them."