The South by Southwest (SXSW) festival has been canceled, Austin Mayor Steve Adler announced Friday. “I’ve gone ahead and declared a local disaster,” Adler told reporters at a press conference. Despite the Austin Public Health Department on Wednesday declaring there were no cases in the county and insisting that canceling SXSW would not make the community safer, festival officials said the “situation evolved rapidly” and they would be honoring the city’s choice. “We are committed to do our part to help protect our staff, attendees, and fellow Austinites,” the festival said in a statement. SXSW also said it was exploring options to reschedule the event along with an online experience for 2020 festival participants.
Prior to the festival’s cancelation, SXSW was reportedly planning to increase the number of hand washing stations along with screening employees and volunteers. Comedian and actor Kumail Nanjiani said canceling SXSW was the “responsible thing” to do. “We’re kind of in an unprecedented situation here and caution is key. Thank you for the making the right decision,” he tweeted.