Major brands are starting to pull out of their planned participation at this year’s SXSW, which is scheduled to return for its annual takeover of Austin, TX on March 13th-22nd. The industry-wide summit, which focuses on technology and entertainment, typically welcomes tens of thousands of musicians, creatives, and professionals to participate in both the trade show/conference and live performances and events throughout the week. This year’s event, however, is set to open under the shadows of ongoing fears of COVID-19 a.k.a. coronavirus spreading in parts of the United States.
According to Variety, major media brands, including Amazon Studios, Twitter, and Facebook, have all withdrawn from participating at SXSW, citing concerns over the deadly illness and the health of company employees who would be attending the densely populated event. According to The New York Times, 11 cases of the respiratory illness have been confirmed in the state of Texas.
The report also states that Hillary Clinton is still scheduled to hold her keynote speech at the event, so SXSW still has that going for them, which is nice.
SXSW officials shared an update on how they plan to work with health officials on limiting the potential spread of the virus with so many people using public transportation to arrive in Austin and mingle (grown-up handshakes included) throughout the event.
“SXSW is working closely on a daily basis with local, state, and federal agencies to plan for a safe event,” the statement shared on Monday read. “As a result of this dialogue and the recommendations of Austin Public Health, we are proceeding with the 2020 event with the health and safety of our attendees, staff, and volunteers as our top priority.
More American touring artists have decided to cancel or postpone their own performances abroad as world health officials continue to work to contain the spread of the virus, including The National, Lettuce, and more.