Instead of going to barbecues, fireworks and family get-togethers this Fourth of July weekend, Austin residents are being urged to stay inside as much as possible in order to remain safe as COVID-19 cases surge in the area.

With area hospitals hovering around 70% capacity, daily hospitalizations rising and total cases poised to potentially surpass 10,000 on July 1, officials are pleading with residents to stay safe.

“We cannot afford the missteps right now, not this weekend,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Austin-Travis County interim health authority, in a July 1 press conference. “The consequences will be dire for us. It will mean we exceed capacity in our hospitals, and people will die who do not need to die.”

Parks, pools closed

The city of Austin closed the Barton Springs and Deep Eddy pools for the rest of the summer June 30. All other Austin Parks & Recreation facilities will be shuttered from July 3-5, as will all county parks.

In a letter to local government leaders, Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe urged others to take similar actions.

"I suggest all local governments cancel publicly sponsored events and close public spaces in advance of the 4th of July weekend in order to discourage social gatherings and therefore discourage spread of COVID-19,” Biscoe wrote.

Fireworks, concert canceled

The H-E-B Austin Symphony July 4th Concert & Fireworks event has been an annual tradition for more than 40 years, but the event will not take place this year.

The ASO announced June 12 this will be just the second time in the show’s more than 40-year history that it will not take place; the first cancellation was in 2011 due to a drought.

The event normally brings about 100,000 people out in close proximity to one another, according to a media release, which is unsafe due to the rapid spread of the virus in the community.

A planned live music show at ACL Live also will no longer take place. The downtown Austin music venue announced the socially distanced Fourth of July show, featuring local performers, such as Jackie Venson, Brownout and Walker Lukens, in mid-June, but it postponed the event when Austin entered Stage 4 of its coronavirus risk protocols.

Willie’s picnic goes virtual

Willie Nelson’s annual Fourth of July picnic was set to take place at the country music star’s Luck, Texas ranch in Spicewood this year. Instead, Nelson will be performing on a live stream from his nearby recording facility. Other performers featured throughout the day will include Asleep at the Wheel, Charley Crockett, Margo Price, Robert Earl Keene, Sheryl Crow and Steve Earle.

Interviews and a virtual town hall will take place between sets, and Scott Roberts of Salt Lick will share some tips at a barbecue cook-along. Tickets are $35, and bundles are available with beer, wine and cocktails.