The 2020 SXSW Festival has been canceled due to growing concerns over the coronavirus, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said on Friday, declaring a “state of emergency” in the city.
“This is a medical and data-driven decision,” Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, the chief executive of the county, said at the press conference. Eckhardt issued a companion declaration of disaster extending to all events in the area.
The annual festival was expected to take place March 13 to March 20 in Austin, Texas. SXSW tweeted on Friday that they are “devastated to share this news.”
“The City of Austin has canceled the March dates for SXSW and SXSW EDU. SXSW will faithfully follow the City’s directions,” the statement read. “This is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place.”
On the SXSW website, an additional statement read: “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. We understand the gravity of the situation for all the creatives who utilize SXSW to accelerate their careers; for the global businesses; and for Austin and the hundreds of small businesses – venues, theatres, vendors, production companies, service industry staff, and other partners that rely so heavily on the increased business that SXSW attracts.”
Stephanie Hayden, Director of Austin Public Health, said, “The department will be working with the Austin Center of Events to ensure all events have a disease mitigation plan. Because there are dynamics with COVID-19, we will evaluate each event case by case.”
“We have NO confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Travis County,” confirmed Austin Public Health Interim Director Dr. Mark Escott. “Having said that, the COVID-19 threat is growing across the United States; that threat is growing locally. But now is not the time to panic. Now is the time to prepare and provide a measured response to that threat.”
Before SXSW officially canceled the event, several media outlets, studios and tech companies have announced they are pulling out or limiting their activity at the festival. Among them are Starz, Lionsgate, Netflix, Apple, Amazon Studios, Twitter, Facebook and CNN.
So far, Texas health officials have confirmed 14 cases of the respiratory virus in the state. As of Friday morning, 164 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the U.S., and 11 people have died from the disease domestically, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those account for over 94,000 cases worldwide with 3,221 deaths.
See SXSW’s tweet below.
— SXSW (@sxsw) March 6, 2020