South by Southwest 2020 Canceled Due to Coronavirus Spread
The City of Austin made the decision but said there are still no confirmed local cases of COVID-19
South by Southwest 2020 has been canceled for the first time in its 34-year history.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler announced Friday afternoon at a press conference that he has declared a local disaster due to the spread of the Coronavirus. That order forbids gatherings that attract individuals from areas affected by Coronavirus and that bring people into close proximity with one another.
Health officials said there is no need to panic and that there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19, the diseased caused by the Coronavirus, in Travis County.
Still, they see the spread of the disease across the country, including in Harris County near Houston and testing underway in the Austin area, as a reason to prohibit mass gatherings like SXSW, which could draw people from areas that are affected by the outbreak, including internationally.
Many of the conference’s biggest names and brands had pulled their participation from SXSW this week but events around town were still scheduled to go on up until Friday.
Organizers of the conference posted a statement on sxsw.com on Friday immediately following the mayor’s announcement:
“We are devastated to share this news with you. ‘The show must go on’ is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place. We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation,” the statement says. “As recently as Wednesday, Austin Public Health stated that ‘there’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer.’ However, this situation evolved rapidly, and we honor and respect the City of Austin’s decision. We are committed to do our part to help protect our staff, attendees, and fellow Austinites.”