The annual South by Southwest Conference and Festivals (SXSW), which showcases various media, tech, movies, and musical events, has been inundated with cancelations because of fears over the coronavirus, otherwise known as Covid-19.
The festival takes place in Austin, Texas, from March 13 to March 22.
There have even been calls to cancel the event, and one individual has set up a petition with Change.org intending to get SXSW shut down for the first time in its history.
The petition has a target of 50,000, and as of writing, it had reached nearly 43,000.
It was started by Shayla Lee, who states that she is concerned about the hundreds of thousands of people who would travel to Austin to attend the array of conferences.
Lee continues: “I believe that having an event like this is irresponsible amid an outbreak.”
Lee asks that we think about those who would be vulnerable to the virus, such as children, the elderly, asthmatics, and those with compromised immune systems.
The petition will be directed to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, the CDC, Austin Public Health, and of course, SXSW itself.
SXSW has had a string of cancellations
The event suffered through a series of cancellations, including Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who had been scheduled to speak at the festival. Another giant of social media, Facebook, followed suit and is refusing to attend.
On Tuesday evening, Amazon announced it wouldn’t be attending, thereby pulling all Amazon related activities at the festival, including the premieres of sci-fi shows Tales From The Loop and Upload.
China Gathering, which is a group of Chinese entrepreneurs, was also another high profile group to pull out due to the fears of coronavirus.
This follows events all over the world, including metal bands Testament, Exodus, and Death Angel, who canceled a show in Italy due to the outbreak there. When Pope Francis fell ill after meeting with people, it increased the fears of contamination.
Others have expressed fears online about traveling to SXSW because of coronavirus
Many others have expressed their concern online, including those who were planning on attending. One Twitter user, Arlan, inquired if others were canceling their trip to Austin this year.
Is anyone thinking of cancelling their SXSW plans? Just curious…
— Arlan 👊🏾 (@ArlanWasHere) March 2, 2020
One Twitter user suggested that “safety should be a top priority for SXSW,” and that they should “refund everyone’s ticket in light” of the virus.
"Safety is a top priority for #SXSW.".. right behind the other top priority of $3555MM revenues on the line. Requesting travelers to "practice usual precautions" is short-sighted and naive. You should refund everyone's ticket in light of #Coronavirus "di… https://t.co/dedj5SUsfI
— Ken Michaelside (@kmside) March 2, 2020
Kate McGuire, who claims to be a teacher in Austin, pleaded with festival-goers, or “INFECTIOUS TECH CREATURES OF THE NIGHT” as she referred to them, not to spread their germs.
SXSW: ignoring all cancellations and warnings and still going on
People going to SXSW: let me spread my germs all over
Me: 🦠😵❌❗️ INSIDE IS SAFE, GET AWAY FROM ME INFECTIOUS TECH CREATURES OF THE NIGHT ❌❗️😵🦠
— Kate McGuire (@kachowpowpow) March 2, 2020
SXSW Organizers have said that the event which has been going strong for 32 years will go-ahead.
A spokesperson has said that they are in close contact with public health agencies who are monitoring the situation. Austin Public Health officials have allegedly given the organizers the green light to continue as normal.
Last year the event attracted 417,000 people and injected $356 million into the local economy.