The Austin-based tech and film conference South by Southwest (SXSW) has been cancelled this year over fears of coronavirus, making it the first major festival to be pulled in the wake of the outbreak.

Overnight, Austin Mayor Steve Adler addressed a press conference, saying:

“Based on the recommendation of our public health officer and our director of public health . . . I’ve gone ahead and declared a local disaster in the city and associated with that, have issued an order that effectively cancels SXSW.”

SXSW was set to run from March 13 to 22 in the city, but organisers have followed orders and called it off, saying that they are “devastated” to have to do so, for the first time in 34 years.

“We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation,” they said, adding that they will do their best to protect staff, attendees and residents of Austin.

Per a statement on their own website, they say:

“We are exploring options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU. For our registrants, clients, and participants we will be in touch as soon as possible and will publish an FAQ.”

Image: Getty Images / Amy E. Price