Austin cancels SXSW over coronavirus fears

Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler announced Friday that South By Southwest (SXSW) would be canceled amid the coronavirus outbreak and declared a “local disaster.” “I’ve gone ahead and declared a local disaster in the city, and associated with that have issued an order that effectively cancels South by Southwest this year,” Adler told reporters.

Austin health officials cited the large numbers of people that would be visiting Austin from locations where coronavirus is present for the decision to cancel. Austin does not currently have any confirmed cases of the virus.

Pressure: Officials were already facing pressure to cancel the annual conference that highlights the tech industry, film and music, with one petition to scrap the event garnering more than 17,000 signatures.

Dozens of brands, including Facebook, Twitter and Apple, had already pulled out of the festival as many fear large gatherings pose a major health risk as the viral illness rapidly spreads.

The conference was scheduled to run March 13-22. Organizers say 73,716 people attended SXSW last year and the estimated economic impact on the Austin economy was $355.9 million.