City of Austin Announces Press Conference on COVID-19 and Spring Festival Events
City and County leaders to address SXSW concerns & more at 3:30pm
By Austin Sanders,
2:44PM, Fri. Mar. 6, 2020
The City of Austin has announced a 3:30pm City Hall press conference to deliver an “update of the status of Spring Festival events, including SXSW, in light of COVID-19.” In attendance will be Mayor Steve Adler, Judge Sarah Eckhardt, Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Health Authority, and Stephanie Hayden, Austin Public Health Director.
The press conference comes after days of speculation over whether South by Southwest would go on amid growing concerns over a coronavirus outbreak and a cascade of event and talent cancellations.
SXSW Edu is slated to begin this Sunday, while the marquee Conference, Film Festival, Music Festival, and Gaming Expo is set to kick off on March 13. (Editor’s note: Austin Chronicle publisher and owner Nick Barbaro is a co-founder and co-owner of SXSW, and the Chronicle is the official print sponsor of SXSW.)
In the days leading up to this year’s event, high-profile companies have announced they are dropping out of previously scheduled panels and presentations, including Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Netflix, TikTok, Intel, Amazon Studios, WarnerMedia. Two other companies which sponsor popular events during the festival – Mashable and local startup incubator Capital Factory – also announced they would cancel their events. A Change.org petition urging cancellation of the festival has garnered 54,000 signatures, as of press time.
Notable performers have also called off their appearances, including the Beastie Boys, Trent Reznor, and Ozzy Osbourne. Other businesses, like Sony, Universal, and WarnerMedia banned their employees from traveling to Austin for the conference.
This is a developing story.