City officials in Austin have announced the cancellation of this year’s SXSW festival, a major tech and music conference, citing concerns about the spread of coronavirus.
SXSW, which draws 400,000 visitors, was scheduled for 13 March to 22 March.
“Based on the recommendation of our public health officer and our director of public health,” said Austin’s mayor, Steve Adler, at a Friday press conference. “I’ve gone ahead and declared a local disaster in the city and associated with that, have issued an order that effectively cancels SXSW.”
The announcement comes days after several high-profile companies, including Netflix, tech news outlet Mashable, video-based social media platform TikTok and the US chip maker Intel, pulled out of the festival.
More than 50,000 people had signed a petition seeking to get the festival cancelled.
The US death toll from the coronavirus has climbed to 14, with all but one victim in Washington state, while the number of infections swelled to over 200 scattered across at least 18 states, including at least six cases in the Houston area.
Officials in Austin said that festivals planned for later in the spring will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
“Panic will weaken us,” said a city official during the presser, adding that the festival’s cancellation is a matter of precaution based on recommendations from public health officials.
More details soon …