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City of Austin forgoes vendors, live music at annual New Year's Eve fireworks display

The City of Austin is dubbing the event, "Fireworks from Afar."

AUSTIN, Texas — This year, the New Year's Eve fireworks show will be socially-distanced, and the City of Austin is asking Austinites and visitors to watch from afar.

In order to reduce the number of people at Vic Mathias Shores, where the fireworks show takes place annually, the City of Austin will not allow city-organized activities, vendors and entertainment at the park. Typically, Austinites can shop from local vendors at the show, eat from food trucks and hear from the Austin Symphony Orchestra.

Instead, the City of Austin is urging people to either watch from afar, watch online or on TV on channel 6 or channel 99. The fireworks show starts at 10 p.m. on Dec. 31.

It's all part of an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus and prevent a post-holiday surge of COVID-19 cases. Austin is currently in Stage 3 of the coronavirus risk-based guidelines set by the city, and City Manager Spencer Cronk is concerned that the transmission rate of the virus is now speeding up. Additionally, City officials said COVID-19 cases are on the rise as the omicron emerges and delta variants continue, the press release said.

“In years past, Austin’s New Year has been a family-friendly event with entertainment and activities for kids of all ages. With the vaccine only recently becoming available for children, we are choosing to remain diligent in our efforts to minimize the spread of COVID, while also wishing everyone lots of light and hope for 2022,” said City Manager Cronk in a statement. “Many local events and venues are offering opportunities to ring in the New Year. We encourage everyone to celebrate safely and enjoy the fireworks show from a safe distance."

Amid the holidays, health leaders are urging people to get vaccinated or boosted, get tested before events and gatherings and practice social distancing and wear masks.

As a reminder, it is illegal to have, use and sell fireworks with the Austin city limits.

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