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Twitter pulls out of SXSW conference over coronavirus concerns

CEO Jack Dorsey won’t headline show after company suspends noncritical employee travel 

Twitter’s blue bird silhouette logo on a black background. Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Twitter is canceling employee travel to the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, including CEO Jack Dorsey’s planned keynote, due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. The company announced Sunday it was halting all “non-critical business travel and events”, saying the policy was effective immediately and would remain in place until a vaccine was available, or until “the World Health Organization or Centers for Disease Control deem it appropriate to step back from pandemic precautionary measures.”

Twitter spokesperson Siobhan Murphy said in an email to The Verge on Monday that the employee travel restriction “unfortunately includes SXSW.” The company’s #TwitterHouse at SXSW which was slated to have “a variety of events and programming,” also has been canceled.

A petition calling for the cancellation of the annual music and tech festival over coronavirus concerns has more than 15,000 signatures as of Monday morning. South by Southwest officials said Sunday that the festival is still scheduled to go on as planned, but that they were “working closely on a daily basis with local, state, and federal agencies” around coronavirus concerns.

Several large events have been canceled or postponed because of the coronavirus, including Mobile World Congress, Facebook’s F8 developer conference, the annual Game Developers’ Conference, and the Geneva Motor Show.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has infected more than 89,000 people worldwide. More than 3,000 people have died, including two people in the US over the weekend.

Update: March 2nd, 11:27 AM ET: Added the cancellation of TwitterHouse