SXSW has officially announced it will cancel its tech and music conference slated for March 13th to 22nd in Austin, Texas due to concerns around coronavirus, though it’s exploring rescheduling. “Based on the recommendation of our public health officer and our director of public health . . . I’ve gone ahead and declared a local disaster in the city and associated with that, have issued an order that effectively cancels SXSW,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler at a press conference today.
SXSW writes that it will follow the mayor’s order and cancel its conference. “We are exploring options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU. For our registrants, clients, and participants we will be in touch as soon as possible and will publish an FAQ.” It’s unclear if attendees or sponsors will receive refunds.
Interim health authority for Austin Dr. Mark Escott said that there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Travis County, but called the cancellation a “proactive step in preparing this community for this storm.” He said that because people would be spending long periods of time near each other at panels and concerts, and because some registered attendees hail from international and domestic areas with COVID-19 exposure, cancelling SXSW was the right move. Not all future events will need to be cancelled, though, Escott explained.
The news comes just three days after Adler held a press conference to announce that, “At this point, there’s no evidence that cancelling SXSW makes us safer.” As of Tuesday, Austin’s Travis County said Thursday that it had zero confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Published: March 07, 2020