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SXSW still on despite large companies dropping out

SXSW 2020

UPDATE: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon have had their SXSW appearances cancelled.

With coronavirus fears growing and big conferences and festivals being cancelled or postponed around the the world, many are wondering if SXSW — whose Tech portion begins in just just over a week — will pull the plug on this year’s festival. SXSW and Texas’s answer to this is no and, especially for the Music portion of SXSW which begins officially on March 16, it is mostly business as usual. Of course some overseas bands can no longer come, and there have been a few reported band and event cancellations, but mostly — like most shows happening in every city of the United States for now — the general feeling is that the show must go on. The Tech and Film portions of SXSW, on the other hand, have a growing number of high profile companies dropping out this week, including Apple, Netflix, Intel, Facebook, Twitter, Mashable, Vevo, TikTok, WarnerMedia, and more (and Apple’s cancellation also means that the premiere of the new Apple+ Beastie Boys documentary is no longer happening, Deadline reports).

Meanwhile, SXSW — like they always do last minute — has continued to announce new additions to the lineup of Tech, Movie, Music, and Comedy each day; they revealed the 2020 Comedy lineup, which includes Pete Davidson, Hannibal Buress, Jon Daly, Bob Odenkirk, Bill Burr, Samantha Bee, and more yesterday (which is also the day we announced our long-in-the-works, 14th annual day parties are returning to Mohawk this year).

They also have been issuing statements related to coronavirus concerns. The most recent one, from March 2, reads:

Regarding the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak: SXSW is working closely on a daily basis with local, state, and federal agencies to plan for a safe event. As a result of this dialogue and the recommendations of Austin Public Health, the 2020 event is proceeding with safety as a top priority.

More information is on their COVID-19 attendee information page.

In a press conference yesterday, Dr. Mark Escott with Austin Public Health said, “today the threat of community spread is low [in Austin], but we are prepared for that to happen here,” KVUE reports. He continued, saying that right now, “there is no evidence that closing SXSW is going to make the community safer,” and that “one concern is if we shut down SXSW, people will still continue to come here.”

According to Escott, SXSW will screen employees and volunteers for signs of illness before they are cleared to work at the festival, and add handwashing stations and hand sanitizer throughout.

Nearly 50,000 people have signed a petition calling for the cancellation of this year’s SXSW.

UPDATE: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon have had their SXSW appearances cancelled.

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