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Nearly 2,500 sign petition calling for SXSW cancellation over coronavirus fears

Posted at 1:58 PM, Feb 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-29 14:59:00-05

AUSTIN, TX — A petition has been started on Change.org to cancel South By Southwest amid coronavirus concerns.

The petition's goal is 2,500 signatures and has already gathered 2,469.

Shayla Lee, the petition creator, says she's concerned about the thousands of people who will travel to Austin for the festival.

"I believe that having an event like this is irresponsible amid an outbreak," said Lee.

The two week long Austin festival is set to begin March 13.

The petition says SXSW should think about "children, immune compromised, diabetic and elderly people" who are in higher risk to contract the coronavirus.

SXSW says they are working closely with local, state, and federal agencies year-round to plan for a safe event.

"The SXSW 2020 event is proceeding as planned. The World Health Organization’s recommendation is that travelers practice usual precautions, and we are increasing our efforts to help prevent the spread of disease per Austin Public Health’s recommendations. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will provide updates as necessary," the festival posted on their website.

On February 28, Austin Public Health updated their FAQ about COVID-19 and SXSW with the following language:

Q: Does the COVID-19 situation change plans for SXSW and other large festivals/events?

A: APH will continue to communicate with the CDC and health departments nationwide as many cities host large events. At this time, no health departments in the state have requested the cancellation of any gatherings as the current risk of person-to-person spread in their jurisdictions remains low. Historically, March is not a peak international travel month in Austin, but we will continue to monitor. Information and practices are changing during this rapidly evolving situation and we will continue to follow national guidelines. This being said, there are no imminent plans to postpone any current events. For more information about monitoring and operations click here.

The health of the Austin community and those who visit our City is our highest priority. APH coordinates with South by Southwest (SXSW) annually to monitor and prepare for any public health emergencies during the festival – this year is no different. While in flu season, APH is working with SXSW to disseminate disease prevention messaging to help keep attendees and the entire Austin community safe. APH routinely monitors nearly 80 communicable diseases, which will continue throughout the year as travelers visit Austin every day for various international events. APH is also working with the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor and prepare for any local cases of COVID-19.