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To the users of Austin.com and Free Fun in Austin,
It is with sadness that we must announce the following new guideline for event submissions on our websites:
Austin.com is and always has been a site that celebrates and promotes the unique people and places of Austin, TX and surrounding cities. Though many businesses, locations, and events are closed at this time, we continue to highlight those things so that you can plan to experience them in the future.
- Effective immediately, Austin.com and Free Fun in Austin will cease promoting any event that specifically encourages gatherings of senior citizens or individuals with chronic illnesses. Happenings like community health awareness events for people with diabetes, lung disease, or heart disease, and senior-only social gatherings such as card games, dance classes, and more, will not be published on our calendars or in our event recommendation lists. Other events may be subject to refusal as well, as determined by our editorial leadership on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with City of Austin health officials.
We are aware that this will impact a small but important segment of the event submissions our websites receive from organizers in Austin, and we deeply apologize for the inconvenience. The City of Austin has not advised us to take this step; we are doing so out of an abundance of caution and love for our city. We are taking this step because COVID-19 victims who lose their lives are averaging near 80 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control, which issued a guidance this week urging seniors and those with chronic health conditions to remain at home.
The COVID-19 virus appears to be much more deadly than the common influenza for older individuals and people with compromised immune systems. If you are going to an event in Austin, please remember to follow the best-possible hygiene practices, even though there are no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Austin as of this writing. We look forward to promoting senior-focused and health-focused events once again in the near future. These events will return to our calendars within 90 days of public health officials advising that the outbreak risk has passed.
-Stephen C. Webster, Executive Editor