“We all want to return to some sort of normalcy while keeping safety at the forefront,” he said.
For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic brought events such as the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo to a halt in March, the mayor’s office of special events is now issuing permits under new guidelines.
Venue operators must present a plan to the office of special events, which will also be reviewed by the Houston Health Department, said Susan Christian, the director of the Mayor's Office of Special Events.
The guidelines state venues must operate at no more than 25% capacity, perform temperature checks upon entry and require the use of masks.
Among approved events so far, the Houston Texans have gotten a parking lot tailgate plan approved with a limit of 100 cars and no more than four passengers per car. The Houston Dynamo and Dash plan to open BBVA Stadium at 25% capacity, and the Houston Symphony plans to put on live performances for up to 150 guests at Jones Hall, the 3,000-person performing arts center.
Events in “uncontrolled environments,” such as fun runs, parades and festivals, will not be permitted, Turner said.
Houston Emergency Health Director Dr. David Persse said the new guidelines, which will remain in place through the end of September, are manageable at the city’s current state of coronavirus transmission.
"I firmly believe if we all do our part we can be successful, as a community we have driven that positivity rate down ... the new guidelines are designed to make certain that we can have these events safely," he said.
As of Sept. 9, the city’s test positivity rate is 6.6%, and the health department reported 223 new cases and eight new deaths, bringing the total death toll to 906.
The guidelines may be rolled back at any point if cases begin to surge.