The news was confirmed in a Friday press conference by Austin mayor Steve Adler who declared a “local disaster” in the city. Organizers and attendees have about a week to figure out what they’ll now be doing instead of converging on Texas. Austin EMS System Medical Director Dr. Mark Escott said there were no confirmed cases in the area yet, but precautions had to be taken.
“After careful deliberation, there was no acceptable path forward that would mitigate the risk enough to protect our community,” Escott said.
The writing appeared to be on the wall in the days leading up to the announcement. Just about every big name company you can think of, including Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and even this very website pulled out of SXSW well in advance because it’s generally inadvisable for people to assemble in large crowds right now.
So while nobody is happy about this development, it’s safe to say nobody is surprised, either. Google I/O, Mobile World Congress, and GDC already pulled the trigger on cancelling or postponing before SXSW did. Don’t be surprised if the summer Olympics in Tokyo do the same.
For now, please remember to clean your phone, wash your hands, and stay home if you can.
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