Speed Reads

the coronavirus crisis

South by Southwest canceled amid coronavirus concerns

South by Southwest 2020 is officially off.

The film, music, and technology event held annually in Austin was canceled Friday due to ongoing concerns over the spread of the new COVID-19 coronavirus. Austin Mayor Steve Adler in a press conference said he was declaring a "local disaster in the city" and issuing an order forcing the event's cancellation, per The Hollywood Reporter.

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."

This comes after Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, WarnerMedia, and more had all pulled out of the event citing concerns over the new virus. Austin public health officials had previously said 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 noted Friday that "this situation evolved rapidly."

The cancellation of South by Southwest comes as a major blow to Austin, as ABC News reports the event typically injects up to $350 million into the city's economy. Alder said Friday, though, these "ramifications are secondary to making sure that we are safe as a community."