Austin Mayor Steve Adler in a press conference on Friday said he was declaring a "local disaster in the city" and issuing an order forcing the event's cancellation.
With the coronavirus cases spreading fast in the US, authorities in the Austin city of Texas have cancelled a major film and music festival to contain the spread of the deadly disease that has claimed 14 lives and infected at least 299 people.
A major film, music and technology event, ‘South by Southwest’ draws tens of thousands of visitors from around the world every year.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler in a press conference on Friday said he was declaring a “local disaster in the city” and issuing an order forcing the event’s cancellation.
South by Southwest’s organizers in a statement said they are “devastated” that the event won’t be held for the first time in 34 years but said they “respect the City of Austin’s decision.”
All major companies like, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, WarnerMedia, TikTok and more had all pulled out of the event citing concerns over the virus.
Austin public health officials notified earlier that “right now there’s no evidence that closing South by Southwest or other activities is going to make this community safer,” but South by Southwest’s organizers said the “situation evolved rapidly.”
The event keynote speakers included 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, and former 2020 Democratic presidential candidates Beto O’Rourke and Andrew Yang.
The cancellation of South by Southwest is a big blow to Austin, as the event is attended by 300,000 people every year and boosts city’s economy by over USD 350 million.
However, these “ramifications are secondary to making sure that we are safe as a community,” Mayor Adler said.
According to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus tracker at least 299 cases of coronavirus have been detected in the US and 14 people have died due to it.