Deadline reported that the festival, one of the world’s leading annual film, music, business, and networking events, is still happening as planned. The nine-day festival kicks off on March 13 and released a statement Tuesday affirming that safety would be one of the event’s top priorities:
“The SXSW 2020 event is proceeding as planned. Safety is a top priority, and we work closely with local, state, and federal agencies year-round to plan for a safe event.
Where travel has been impacted, especially in the case of China, we are seeing a handful of cancellations. However, we are on par with years past in regard to registrants who are unable to attend.
We are increasing our efforts to prevent the spread of germs per Austin Public Health’s recommendations, and we will continue to monitor the situation closely and will provide updates as necessary.”
SXSW has an attendee safety explainer on its website that specifically mentions the coronavirus, which originated in China in December 2019 and has since spread to dozens of other countries. The festival’s explainer recommended that attendees wash their hands for 20 seconds and use alcohol-based hand sanitizers, to cover their mouths when sneezing or coughing, and to avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
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SXSW is one of several major events that has been disrupted by the coronavirus. Mobile World Congress 2020, an annual trade show centered on mobile devices, was recently cancelled, and large numbers of vendors have pulled out of upcoming events ranging from the Singapore Airshow to PAX East and the Game Developers Conference, the latter two of which take place in the United States. The coronavirus has also directly impacted the film industry: One of Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke’s upcoming projects has been delayed due to the virus and the planned Chinese premiere of “No Time to Die,” Daniel Craight’s final “James Bond” film, was recently cancelled.
The coronavirus, which has also heavily impacted stock markets and oil prices, could also disrupt the upcoming Olympics. While the Olympics are expected to proceed as planned, the International Olympic Committee is assessing whether it will cancel the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo due to the coronavirus.