Austin’s SXSW festival is canceled amid coronavirus concerns: Here’s what you need to know

Mar 6, 2020

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Prompted by international concerns about the spread of the novel coronovirus, Austin Mayor Steve Adler canceled this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) festival Friday afternoon. The annual tech, film and music conference draws hundreds of thousands of attendees from around the world each year.

The City of Austin has yet to have any confirmed cases of the illness and as recently as Wednesday, public health officials had issued a statement, saying, “There’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer.” Still, Mayor Adler made the decision to cancel out of caution, declaring the outbreak a “local disaster.”

“We are devastated to share this news with you,” SXSW organizers announced in a website statement. ”‘The show must go on’ is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place. We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation.”

There was no immediate word on whether or not attendees would receive refunds or credit toward future conferences.

Related: The Critical Points: Why I’m not canceling my travel during the coronavirus outbreak

Were you planning to go to Austin? Here’s what you need to know

If you want to cancel your trip

Trip cancellation insurance kicks in when you’re sick, but it doesn’t apply if your travel is canceled by the threat of a pandemic. The only foolproof way you’ll get your money back is if you purchased “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) insurance.

Related: Which airlines and hotels are offering elite status extensions? 

Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to try nicely: Some airlines and hotel chains are showing more leniency than they are required to offer during this time, and you might be able to politely request credit toward future travel.

Related: Which airlines are offering the most flexibility for travelers affected by the coronavirus

If you still plan to visit Austin

If you don’t want to lose the money you’ve spent to visit the capital city of Texas, there are lots of activities there. When Where What Austin publishes daily events and specials such as happy hours and free or discounted shows. The city is also very child-friendly, with a number of family-focused attractions.

Just remember that the best way to stay safe is through prevention, so wash your hands thoroughly and often.

More: Complete guide to the deadly coronavirus

Related: Myth-busting: Will a face mask keep you safe from viruses on a plane?

Related: Check out the latest updates on airline coronavirus-related waivers, cancellations and route suspensions.


Featured photo courtesy of Visit Austin.

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