Updated March 5, 2020. 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, we are proceeding with the 2020 event with the health and safety of our attendees, staff, and volunteers as our top priority.
Yesterday, Mayor Steve Adler and Austin Public Health held a joint press conference to discuss the current situation around COVID-19. Please keep up with APH’s FAQ.
Prevention tips from Austin Public Health include:
- Washing your hands for 20 seconds and using alcohol based hand sanitizer
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – discard tissue immediately into a closed bin
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Do not attend the event if you are feeling ill. If you are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, call Austin Public Health at 3-1-1. If it is a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.
1. Businesses Continue to Operate, and So Does SXSW
We are following the recommendations of scientific and health agencies when making determinations regarding operations and precautions around the 2020 event. Safety is a top priority, and we continue to work with them on a daily basis. Restaurants, bars, clubs, theatres, stadiums, and other businesses that people patronize are still open and people continue to attend. Travelers from the U.S. and around the world continue to visit Austin daily.
At the World Health Organization press conference, Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated, “Our greatest enemy right now is not the virus itself. It’s fear, rumours and stigma. And our greatest assets are facts, reason and solidarity.”
2. What are the Current Preparedness Plans?
We are in constant contact with the local public health authority, Austin Public Health, and preparedness plans are ongoing.
Safety is a top priority for SXSW. Currently, we are taking the following actions on-site: provision of disinfectant wipes and spray, hand sanitizer for common area spaces and activity spaces, microphone wipe downs, inclusion of Austin Public Health Disease Prevention literature, outreach to all meeting spaces, venues, and hotels.
3. How Will Preparedness Plans Impact SXSW Participants?
SXSW and Austin Public Health encourage the implementation of personal hygiene practices, including washing your hands for 20 seconds and using alcohol based hand sanitizer, when coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – discard tissue immediately into a closed bin; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; and stay home or in your hotel if you have a fever to help maintain the health of all event participants.
4. How Many Cancellations Have Occurred?
At this time, we have a small number of cancellations from participants. This includes attendees who were traveling from heavily affected areas, registrants whose companies have instituted travel bans, and those who have opted out due to personal preference.
5. What is Happening with Corporate Travel Bans?
We understand that some companies have instituted general corporate travel bans for staff. To our knowledge, only a handful have affected our event programming at this time, and we will update our schedule accordingly.
6. Attendee Demographics
Historically, March is not a peak international travel month in Austin. Per Austin-Bergstrom International Airport’s calendar year 2019 data, approximately 1 in 11 passengers arriving or departing AUS either originated from or are terminating at a non-US airport. This includes passengers who are on connecting flights as well as those on nonstop flights.
SXSW EDU’s Conference Attendee numbers from our 2019 demographics report 8,274 Conference Attendees, 421 of whom were from outside of the US.
We are on par with those numbers this year. For SXSW EDU 2020, 7% of registrants are from outside of the US.
At this point, we are not expecting any participants from China due to travel restrictions.
7. Has SXSW Seen the Change.org Petition?
We are aware of this petition. 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.
8. Where Can We Find Updates?
We are regularly updating our COVID-19 Response page with new information. Please check back regularly.
This page may be updated. Please check back regularly – contents are subject to change.