After more than 20 companies—including Amazon, Warner Media, Facebook, Apple, and Twitter—and personalities like Ozzy Osbourne pulled out of this year’s SXSW due to concerns over the current outbreak of coronavirus, Austin mayor Steve Adler, Travis County judge Sarah Eckhardt, and others gathered Friday afternoon to announce that a “local disaster” had been declared in the city and that the festival has been officially canceled. It was described by Austin officials as a “medical and data-driven decision.” They also emphasized that this was not a “panic-based decision.”
This comes after Austin Public Heath official Mark Escott downplayed concerns on Wednesday, saying, “[T]here is no evidence that closing South By Southwest or other activities is going to make this community safer.”
Escott maintained this point of view during today’s announcement, but said that an event of SXSW’s size could potentially “accelerate” the spread of the virus. He also said that, as of today, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Travis County.