South by Southwest Is Canceled After All, With Overwhelming Concern Over Coronavirus

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  • South by Southwest Is Canceled After All, With Overwhelming Concern Over Coronavirus

South by Southwest, an annual conglomeration of festivals taking place over 10 days in Austin, Texas, is canceled due to concerns about the new coronavirus.

The announcement today comes two days after city officials insisted that canceling the event would not improve the safety of Austin residents. Since then, major attendees and participants backed out of the event.

Calling it a “local disaster,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said in a news conference today that he “issued an order that effectively cancels South by Southwest for this year.”

Festival organizers said in a statement 2020 is the first time in 34 years the show will not go on.

Twitter was one of the first brands to announce last weekend that it wouldn’t be attending, banning all non-critical employee travel. Facebook, Amazon Studios, Starz, TikTok, Netflix, Warner Media, Intel and many others are among the companies that had already withdrawn at the time of the city of Austin’s announcement.

Since it was first reported to the World Health Organization in December, the new coronavirus has spread to 90 countries. Nearly 100,000 cases have been reported worldwide and 3,400 people have died from COVID-19, the disease that it causes.

SXSW is the latest in a long list of high-profile events canceled or postponed in light of the epidemic, including Facebook’s F8 conference, Mobile World Congress and Collision.

The cost of the event’s cancellation to the local economy will be significant—everything from restaurants and bars to event venues, taxi drivers, pedicabbers and Airbnb hosts will lose out on an income boost that many in the city rely on for yearly expenses.

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