City of Austin cancels South by Southwest - FOX34 Lubbock

City of Austin cancels South by Southwest

Posted: Updated:
AUSTIN, Texas -

Citing concerns of the 2019 Wuhan novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the City of Austin announced Friday it has canceled the South by Southwest festival -- a week before it was set to begin.

Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt announced a local disaster declaration, but emphasize no cases of COVID-19 have been found in Austin. City and county leaders said this decision is in the public good to mitigate the threat from the coronavirus.

Multiple large tech companies have pulled back from the event in the past couple weeks, including Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and Netflix.

In a statement released during the announcement, South by Southwest organizers note this is the first cancellation in 34 years; 

"As early as Wednesday," it stated, "Austin Public Health stated that 'there's no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer.' However, the situation evolved rapidly, and we honor and respect the City of Austin's decision. We are committed to do our part to help protect our staff, attendees, and fellow Austinites."

South by Southwest organizers are exploring options to reschedule and provide a "virtual SXSW online experience" for registered attendees.

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Officials remind everyone that they can help prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses, including influenza and COVID-19, by following these measures:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover it, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If people feel unwell they should contact their primary care provider before going to a clinic, urgent care or emergency department, to prevent any potential spread.
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