The City of Austin, Texas, has declared a local state of disaster and imposed guidelines that led to the cancelation of the South by Southwest conference and festival held annually in the city, citing concern over the spread of the coronavirus known as COVID-19.
What are the details?
“We have declared a local disaster and associated with that have issued an order that effectively cancels South by Southwest for this year,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler announced Friday.
The city explained in a press release that the decision was made “in response to increasing concerns of COVID-19 across the nation,” citing a number of factors including crowd density and “a significant number of travelers from areas currently experiencing person-to-person spread of COVID-19 domestically and internationally.”
South by Southwest was set to run from March 13-22. It draws in presenters, performers, and attendees from all over the globe.
SXSW organizers issued a subsequent statement saying they would “faithfully follow the City’s directions.”
“We are devastated to share this news with you,” the organizers wrote. “‘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.”
CNN reported that “several of the conference’s biggest names had already pulled out in the days leading up to the cancellation,” including Twitter, Facebook and Intel.
SXSW brings thousands of people to Austin each year and serves as a huge boost to local businesses. NBC News technology correspondent Jacob Ward reported that this year’s cancelation “represents about $350 million in lost revenue for the city of Austin.” He added, “this is an enormous act of civic responsibility.”