The show must go on, at least in Austin and Miami. The cities will house two of the world’s most popular gatherings this month – South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin and Ultra Music Festival in Miami – with officials deeming the events will take place despite growing concerns over the coronavirus.
SXSW, the wide-scale media conference that is entering its 33rd year, came into question when an online petition to cancel the festivities earned over 30,000 signatures. Many shared concerns surrounding public health and safety measures when thousands are in attendance. Several more pointed out the travel restrictions imposed would not benefit the festival. According to Austin news outlet KXAN, some 19,000 international travelers attended last year’s gathering.
Calls for organizers to cancel only heightened when Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey canceled his appearance as a featured speaker. Fellow tech giants Facebook and Intel have also pulled their representation at the conference.
“SXSW is working closely on a daily basis with local, state and federal agencies to plan for a safe event,” the festival shared on its website Monday. “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.”
The event, which is set to run March 13-22, will take appropriate measures including providing disinfectant wipes and spray, hand sanitizer, wiping down all used microphones and providing health outreach to all meeting spaces and venues.
Likewise, Ultra Music Festival organizers and Miami officials are taking similar steps to put on a successful event. The massive EDM bash returns to Bayfront Park for its 21st year but carries SXSW’s concern over international travel. Over 170,000 music lovers attended last year’s festival, a percentage of whom hailed from outside the U.S. With this in mind, officials are taking precautions to keep the weekend event scheduled as planned March 20-22.
“Right now, we don’t have any cases in the city or in the county,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez told local media. “But what makes Ultra different, like I said, is that it is an event that brings people from across the world. I mean, according to their website, 105 countries.”
Suarez noted that Ultra Music Festival organizers needed to update their safety protocols and run those by the city in order to proceed.
“In terms of our response at this point today, we are working with them. They have to update their safety plan, and based on that, if it’s to our satisfaction, we obviously have input as to whether or not we approve their updated life safety plan, and that’s something our fire department has done a magnificent job, I have to say. On getting ready for any potential outbreak, we’ll be analyzing it with their organizers,” Suarez said.
The coronavirus outbreak, which has spread to 73 countries and infected more than 90,000 people, has led to several international concert cancellations. In the U.S., it has led to the postponement of the Korea Times Music Festival, a major K-pop showcase in Los Angeles.