During a news conference on Friday afternoon, Austin city officials announced that they have declared a local disaster and canceled this year's SXSW festival. The show is being called off over infection fears regarding the growing coronavirus outbreak.
"This is not unlike a Hurricane looming in the gulf," a city spokesman told assembled reporters. "Now is the time to prepare."
"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," the event's organizers wrote in a blog post. "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."
As part of this disaster declaration, Director of Austin Public Health Stephanie Hayden explained, the city is requesting that all future events implement a disease mitigation plan based on the crowd density, the venue's location and layout, and the number of attending participants hailing from outbreak areas.