Live Updates: Tracking Coronavirus Cancellations and Travel Restrictions

An updated list due to the epidemic

As coronavirus—the infection that causes the illness COVID-19—threatens to move from epidemic to pandemic, brands and event teams around the world are working to respond with appropriate precautions.

Since China reported initial cases of an unusual pneumonia to the World Health Organization in December, governments in nearly 110 countries globally have reported cases of the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 113,800 people have been infected with the virus and over 4,000 deaths worldwide have been reported, per the WHO.

As of March 10, the death toll in the United States is 26, and more than 700 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed across the country. Last week, President Donald Trump passed an $8.3 billion emergency bill to deal with the outbreak.

States with the highest amount of confirmed cases include California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Texas and Washington.

California, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah and Washington have all declared states of emergency over the spread of the virus.

The University of Washington is the first large U.S. university to cancel in-person classes in light of the virus’s spread. On March 10, Harvard University announced that it would be shifting all of its undergraduate and graduate instruction online.

We’ll keep a running list of how the epidemic is affecting the ad world, from event cancellations and precautions to brands’ travel restrictions.

Editor’s note: All times are E.T.

March 10, 2020

9:53 a.m.: Hyatt Hotels implements COVID-19 procedures at all properties worldwide

President and CEO of Hyatt Hotels Mark Hoplamazian sent an email today to the “Hyatt family” (rewards members, past hotel guests, staff), reassuring them that providing a safe and hygienic environment in all Hyatt hotels globally is always a top priority.

The hotel will “remain committed to upholding the highest standards of cleanliness” by taking comprehensive, precautionary COVID-19 measures, such as implementing hand sanitizer stations and detailing how to protect against transmission in “high-touch areas.” Global advisory teams that include infectious diseases and occupational health experts have been providing guidance to the chain throughout the virus’s emergence.

Hyatt is waiving cancellation fees for stays through March 31, 2020, residing in or traveling to the following high-risk areas: Greater China, South Korea, Japan and Italy. Guests with fully prepaid Advance Rate Purchase non-refundable reservations who have decided not to travel from March 8 through June 2020 may opt to receive 10,000 World of Hyatt Bonus Points as compensation to use for future travel bookings through the company.

9:37 a.m.: Delta Airlines and American Airlines will be making drastic cuts to their domestic and international capacity

Delta will be cutting international capacity by 20-25% and domestic capacity by 10-15%. American Airlines said that it’ll only be cutting international capacity by 10% and domestic capacity by 7.5%. Late last week, United Airlines announced that it would be cutting international capacity by 20% and JetBlue announced that it’d be cutting its own capacity by 5%.

8:30 a.m.: Olive Garden and Yard House’s parent company, Darden Restaurants, will now offer paid sick leave to all employees

Darden Restaurants, the parent company of full-service dining chain brands such as Olive Garden, Yard House, The Capital Grille, Longhorn Steakhouse, Seasons 52 and Bahama Breeze, will be offering paid sick leave to its nearly 180,000 employees in its more than 1,700 restaurants across the country due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns.

Its employees will accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, and current employees can use their benefits immediately. Their starting balance will be based on the hours worked for the previous 26 weeks. New hires will have to wait for a probationary period of 90 days to begin using their benefits.

Darden Restaurants had reportedly been working on the policy “for a while,” but sped up the process due to the viral outbreak.

8:27 a.m.: All Harvard students will be required to move out of their dorms by March 15 as the university prepares its move toward e-learning

Lawrence S. Bacow, president of Harvard University, sent a statement to students and faculty today announcing that undergraduate and graduate classes will now shift online starting March 23. The goal of e-learning will be to minimize the need to gather and spend time with others in close proximity in spaces such as classrooms, dining halls and residential buildings.

Students will be required to move out of their dorms by March 15, and have been asked to not return from Spring Recess. They will need to meet academic and other university-related requirements remotely until further notice.

Students who need to remain on campus will still receive instruction remotely and “must prepare for severely limited on-campus activities and interactions,” the note said. Bacow also reminded students that Harvard’s counseling and mental health services, as well as its employee assistant program, will still be available to help manage any stress or concerns during this “uncertain” time and transition.

March 9, 2020

11:45 p.m.: Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival and Stagecoach country music festival might be postponed and delayed until October 

Coachella, one of the largest music festivals in the world, was originally planned for the weekends of April 10 and 17 and set to take place in Indio, Calif. Stagecoach, an increasingly popular country music festival that also takes place annually, was also slated for an April weekend in Indio.

Now, both festivals’ organizers are in the talks to postpone the music festivals to back-to-back weekends in October—but that’s only if they’re able to retain talent and their representatives, as well as contractors, vendors, sponsors, employees and attendees.

Billboard reported that organizers will know within 48 hours or so whether or not the festivals will be delayed, or canceled altogether for 2020.

9:30 p.m.: The in-person Snap Partner Summit, set to take place on April 2 in Los Angeles, will be converted to an online keynote 

Snap’s second annual publishing and advertising conference, the Snap Partner Summit, is shifting its in-person plans and opting for a virtual alternative, an online-only event. Invitees have been asked to tune into Snap.com at 10:30 a.m. PT on April 2 to hear the anticipated product announcements and CEO Evan Spiegel’s keynote. The one-day tech presentation was originally slated for April 2 at ROW DTLA in Downtown Los Angeles.

Last year at the inaugural summit, Snapchat unveiled a plethora of new and forthcoming features for the social platform.

9:05 p.m.: Pearl Jam postpones the North American leg of its Gigaton world tour 

Seventeen of the Pearl Jam’s stops throughout the Gigaton world tour—all of its U.S. and Canadian performances, beginning on March 18 through April 19—have been postponed. The Seattle-based rock band announced the postponement with “deep frustration and regret” on its official Twitter account. The band’s hopeful message to their fans was “that they can avoid the harsh negative effects of this and retain their sense of community and take care of one another.”

Current ticket holders will be honored for the new tour dates, which have yet to be confirmed.

7:20 p.m.: Santa Clara County bans all gatherings with over 1,000 attendees 

Santa Clara County has implemented a mandatory ban on all events with over 1,000 attendees in light of the county’s first coronavirus-related death. Santa Clara’s law enforcement officials and police departments will be in charge of enforcing the ban.

San Jose Sharks games, as well as other events programmed for San Jose’s SAP Center (Cirque du Soleil performances, a Marc Anthony concert, two Barracuda games), are all subject to the ban.

As of now, the ban will not be enforced at airports or other places/modes of transit, shopping centers or schools.

6:10 p.m.: Though the risk posed by the coronavirus in Boston remains low, the city canceled its St. Patrick’s Day Parade 

5:00 p.m.: Coronavirus containment measures will be applied to all of Italy 

4:36 p.m.: CVS will enhance patient access protocols to address the COVID-19 outbreak 

CVS is enhancing its patient access protocols across the company to address the COVID-19 outbreak in an effort to ensure that patients have a multitude of options when it comes to filling prescriptions.

Effective immediately, fees for home delivery of prescription medications will be waived so that patients can avoid coming to the pharmacy for refills or new prescriptions.

In addition to all COVID-19 diagnostic testing and all telemedicine visits being available with no co-pay, Aetna, a CVS Health company, will now offer 90-day maintenance medication prescriptions for insured and Medicare members. Aetna will also waive early refill limits on 30-day prescription maintenance medications for all members administered through CVS Caremark.

4:34 p.m.: AMC Networks has canceled its live upfront event, originally programmed for March 18 

AMC Networks just shut down its upfront event planned for March 18 at New York’s The Shed, hours after A+E Networks canceled its live presentation originally scheduled for March 23. Instead, it will conduct conversations with clients via virtual presentations.

The next major upfront event scheduled this year is NewsFronts, set for the week of April 27.

4:33 p.m.: The three major stock indices tanked by more than 7% by the end of Monday’s session

By the end of Monday’s trading session, Nasdaq went down by 7.29% (624.94 points), S&P 500 went down 7.59% (225.67 points) and the Dow Jones Industrial Average went down by 7.79% (2,013.76).

These were the biggest one-day declines for both the Dow and the S&P 500 since 2008. The tumble put the Dow close to “bear market,” which is when the price of an investment falls at least 20% or more from its previous financial apex that year.

3:25 p.m.: The American Society of Magazine Editors has postponed the National Magazine Awards, originally scheduled for March 12 

3:00 p.m.: The International Association of Culinary Professionals annual conference, slated to take place in March, is now postponed to October 

Like other major food-centric conferences such as Expo West, International Housewares Show and the International Food Summit, the International Association of Culinary Professionals has postponed its annual conference, which was originally scheduled to take place in Pittsburgh at the Omni William Penn.

The venue won’t change—and nor will the lineup—the IACP board and staff promised in their open letter to hopeful attendees, but the event will now take place Oct. 13-15. The letter also announced the location of 2021’s annual conference (Birmingham), and stated that the 2020 IACP award ceremony will occur as originally scheduled in New York City. Plans will be announced shortly.

1:42 p.m.: Governor Andrew Cuomo unveils NY-state produced hand sanitizer, “NYS Clean” 

“NYS Clean” is New York’s response to hand sanitizer shortages throughout the state and price gouging online in light of the coronavirus outbreak. The product is made up of 75% alcohol—5% more ethanol than Purell—and the bottle is cheaper than similar brand-name products on New York shelves.

“NYS Clean” is likely so budget-friendly due to it being manufactured by inmates via Corcraft, the Division of Correctional Industries’ brand.

12:15 p.m.: A+E swaps its in-person upfront event this month for a virtual alternative 

A+E Networks is the latest media company to follow Fox News Media and Comcast’s FreeWheel’s footsteps in scrapping upfront plans due to concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus.

For now, the only major media company that is still scheduled to hold an upfront event this month is AMC Networks.

A+E will shift its live event, which had been scheduled for March 25 at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center, for a virtual upfront presentation series beginning the week of March 23.

Per Paul Buccieri, A+E Networks’ group president, the company is ready to showcase its portfolio or brands and to preview “upcoming shows we’re excited about, introducing our incredible roster of talent, and outlining our plans for 2021 across A&E, History and Lifetime.”

10:35 a.m.: Dublin, Cork and San Francisco all cancel their St. Paddy’s Day parades 

10 a.m.: The Dow continues to hurtle downward, plunging over 1,200 points

Stocks crashed so drastically this morning that trading was halted for approximately 15 minutes until 9:49 a.m.

Due to pandemic-induced anxieties (and to the sinking price of crude oil and copper), The Dow Jones Industrial Average had one of its worst days since December 2018, plummeting 4.8%, while the S&P 500 tanked 4.5%. Traders expect the Federal Reserve will announce another emergency rate cut at its March meeting next week.

9:26 a.m.: France bans all gatherings of more than 1,000 people to slow the spread of the coronavirus 

As the French death toll due to COVID-19 reached 19, France’s health minister Olivier Veran announced that France would be banning all gatherings of more than 1,000 people. However, events “useful to national life,” such as demonstrations, will be allowed to continue. A few weeks prior to this decree, France had banned public gatherings of more than 5,000 people due to the highly infectious disease. That ban won’t end until May 31. The bans come ahead of the Cannes Festival of Creativity, which is currently slated to be held the week of June 22.

7:30 a.m.: The One Club shifts its annual Creative Week event online 

Originally set to take place in New York the week of May 11-15, One Club’s Creative Week is usually among one of the biggest events in the agency world. Now, organizers are hoping they’ll be able to garner a bigger online turnout with their COVID-19-friendly Creative Week digital alternative.

One Club CEO Kevin Swanepoel told Adweek that the nonprofit believes going virtual for this year’s conference is the “prudent thing to do,” taking cues from other important trade events like Adobe Summit and Google’s I/O developers conference, which are also all set to take place this year via livestreaming.

The One Show, ADC and Young One Student award ceremonies will also be online events this year.

March 8, 2020

11 p.m.: The first major American sporting event has been canceled amid COVID-19 fears 

The 2020 BNP Paribas Open, scheduled to take place in March 2020 at Indian Wells, Calif., has been postponed due to coronavirus concerns. Riverside County officials announced a public health emergency on Saturday, prompting the decision from organizers. Per tournament director Tommy Haas, the organization is prepared to “explore options” and hold the tournament on another date.

7:50 p.m.: SXSW’s insurance doesn’t cover cancellations due to disease 

The decision to terminate the 10-day festival due to the threat of the coronavirus outbreak has ravaged South by Southwest’s finances due to its insurance not covering disease-related cancellations, as the organization admittedly had never foreseen a pandemic.  

Per Chief Executive Roland Swenson in an interview for The Wall Street Journal, he is unsure how SXSW will continue on in 2021, or if it can be postponed to a later date this year. The event may need to rely on grants, lenders will need to take out debt and sponsors and attendees for this year’s planned event will not receive refunds (instead, they’ll receive credits). SXSW boosts Austin’s economy every year, lending an estimated $355 million for the city. 

March 6, 2020

5:06 p.m.: Following the city of Austin’s orders, South by Southwest is canceled

For the first time in 34 years, South by Southwest will not go on amid overwhelming coronavirus concerns.

SXSW’s cancelation announcement comes just two days after city officials insisted that pulling the plug on the multi-day festival would not improve the safety of Austin residents.

Festival organizers expressed that they felt “devastated” to share the news with attendee hopefuls., and Austin Mayor Steve Adler said in the news conference that broke the announcement that it was a “local disaster.”

The cost of the event’s cancellation to the local economy will be considerable.

1:30 p.m.: Emerald City Comic Con, slated to take place next week at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, is postponed until Summer 2020 

12:19 p.m.: Facebook tells Bay Area and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative employees to work remotely, closes its London offices for the weekend 

All of Facebook’s Bay Area employees and contingent staff at the social network’s headquarters in Menlo Park have been advised to work remotely from home. Its employees at the Redwood City-based Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a charity started by Facebook’s CEO and his wife, were also urged to work from home until March 23 after a coworker was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Across the pond at the social network’s London offices, it’s deep cleaning and shutting down operations until Monday after an employee based in Singapore visited the office and tested positive for COVID-19.

12:13 p.m.: CNN limits all nonessential travel and events for employees (including SXSW) 

CNN has dropped from South by Southwest, canceling its CITIZEN by CNN House activation at the 10-day festival. The American news media network has also limited all nonessential travel for its employees until further notice.

10:15 a.m.: How COVID-19 is disrupting the global advertising machine, upending timelines and traditions, and forcing the industry to adapt and transform 

The current outbreak of COVID-19 has been a different animal for the global advertising industry to tackle, given that it is an uncertain, rapidly spreading epidemic that has spilled over national borders and has caused corners of the industry to suffer. 

Several major business-to-business conferences and events have been canceled (though South by Southwest continues to carry on), and widespread travel restrictions have thrown advertising production schedules into disarray. Companies that have traditionally had activations at SXSW have dropped out, and several other festivals are feeling the squeeze. 

These postponements and cancellations have forced brands and agencies to figure out alternative options that let their staffs work from home and keep all business operations managed under the cloud, consider new solutions for production staffing, and provide event attendees with exciting virtual experiences. 

Meanwhile, the TV ad market remains strong, hinging on speculations that people will be staying home. Steve Naylor, a research director at Parks Associates, a firm that specializes in entertainment and content services, told Adweek that video consumption numbers could go up for a lot of video-on-demand services. 

9:44 a.m.: Annual industrial manufacturing expo Grainger Show, planned for March 15-17 in Orlando, is canceled 

8:48 a.m.: Toronto’s Collision Conference goes digital 

Due to a large number of public events pulling the plug in the face of the uncertainty and fears posed by COVID-19, Collision Conference, a global tech industry gathering in Toronto, will not be taking place physically until next year.

Instead, from June 22-25, “attendees” will tune in online via the bespoke “Collision from Home” app. There, participants can livestream talks, chat and connect with one another. Collision’s speaker program this year is set to be star-studded, with guests such as Seth Rogen, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Al Gore, will.i.am, Sophia Bush, Timbaland, Alexis Ohanian, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jessie Reyez.

Though this is Collision’s alternative solution to the coronavirus outbreak, the organization is offering full refunds for those who expected to attend the conference as originally planned in Toronto.

March 5, 2020

9:43 p.m.: The Walt Disney Family Museum shuts down for the weekend to conduct a deep cleaning of all museum spaces and enhance hygienic protocols

5:02 p.m.: The Dow and other major U.S. stock indexes remain volatile

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 all tumbled by over three  percentage points at the close of Thursday’s trading sessions. All three of the major U.S. stock indexes lost the almost 4% gains they made the day prior.

Thursday’s stock market tumbles may be due in part to California declaring a state of emergency after its first coronavirus-related death was confirmed yesterday afternoon.

4:51 p.m.: Starz is out of South by Southwest, cutting their activation and panel from the festival’s programming

1:00 p.m.: HIMSS is canceled for the first time in 58 years 

The 2020 HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition, a massive health-tech conference that has drawn in thousands of participants for over 50 years, has been canceled. The event was set to take place in Orlando at the Orange County Convention Center. Though the conference had, just two days prior to the official cancellation announcement, detailed its crisis preparedness plan, organizers said that this final decision was “unavoidable” in an email to vendors.

President Trump was one of the speakers of the event.

10:54 a.m.: Due to outbreak, LinkedIn will not participate in any events until May

LinkedIn has pulled its participation from all external events scheduled for March and April due to the coronavirus outbreak, asking employees to postpone all nonessential business travel until May.

LinkedIn was supposed to have an activation at South by Southwest.

The professional networking and job search platform has also recommended all of its San Francisco Bay Area employees to work remotely if possible through the end of March.

10:22 a.m.: WarnerMedia ditches South by Southwest, pulling media activations from all of its brands like CNN and HBO

9:28 a.m.: SoulCycle goes the extra mile to keep its riders healthy

SoulCycle sent a note to its riders today that it would be upgrading its sanitation protocols to keep member and employee health top of mind as the coronavirus outbreak develops.

The boutique indoor cycling gym is using hospital-grade cleaning solution as recommended for use by the CDC on similar viruses, making hand sanitizer more readily accessible throughout its studios, honoring all late cancellations for those who feel ill without charging a fee and reminding riders to wash their hands.

9:24 a.m.: Starbucks will host its annual shareholder meeting virtually

Instead of making its partners and shareholders go to Washington for the Annual Meeting of Shareholders of Starbucks Corporation on March 18, the Seattle-based coffeehouse chain has asked its invitees to stay home and tune in digitally.

8:57 a.m.: United and JetBlue cut flights

Two of New York City’s most popular airlines, JetBlue and United Airlines, have cut their flights citing “a fall in demand.” JetBlue will cut capacity of about 5% and United will reduce international flights by 20%, domestic by 10%.

8:03 a.m.: IATA finds that airlines around the world could see $113 billion loss

The International Air Transport Association updated its analysis of the monetary impact of COVID-19 on the global passenger airline industry and found that flight carriers have between $63 billion and $113 billion to lose.

The “smaller” figure of a collective $63 billion loss is if there is a limited spread of novel coronavirus in the markets with more than 100 confirmed cases as of March 2 (China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Italy, France, Germany and Iran).

The estimated $113 billion loss, however, is in the event of a second scenario with a broader spread of the illness, which applies a similar methodology as the first figure but considers all markets that have 10 or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of March 2.

IATA’s previous analysis, issued on Feb. 20, estimated a loss figure of $29.3 billion based on a scenario that would see the spread of coronavirus confined to the Greater China market. Presently, the illness has spread to over 80 countries.

Since the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a public health emergency on Jan. 30, the share prices of airlines have fallen by almost 25 percentage points.

6:23 a.m: Shoptalk is postponed

Retail conference Shoptalk, which had been planned for later this month, has been postponed. “Following the rapid escalation of the COVID-19 outbreak around the world and in the United States, Shoptalk has been rescheduled to September 14-17, 2020,” organizers said this morning.

12:40 a.m.: United Airlines Holdings will cut domestic flights by 10% and international flights by 20% in April

March 4, 2020

10:29 p.m: Facebook closes both its Stadium East and Stadium West offices after Seattle-based contractor is diagnosed with COVID-19

9:36 p.m.: Netflix pulls out of South by Southwest

The streaming platform joins Apple+ and Amazon Studios in pulling out of South by Southwest, canceling all of its programmed events.

Five Netflix original films—one feature film, “Uncorked,” and four documentaries—were set to screen during South by Southwest. A panel with Kenya Barris and Rashida Jones on their upcoming Netflix series #BlackExcellence was also scheduled to take place during the festival.

8:25 p.m.: Apple joins rival tech giants in dropping out of South by Southwest

Apple has announced it is suspending its participation in SXSW. Three new Apple TV+ projects—a documentary and two original series—were set to debut at the 10-day festival. Apple may need to make a final scheduling decision about an upcoming software development conference slated for June.

7:50 p.m.: Starbucks and McDonald’s step up their restaurant sanitation game

Both restaurant chain brands with faithful followings have adjusted their cleaning operations as the coronavirus epidemic gains traction in the United States. Starbucks employees have been instructed to sanitize door handles, seating and furniture, bathrooms and ordering machines frequently. Per the coffee company, the cleaning routine should last 30 minutes and take place during peak hours.

Similarly, McDonald’s employees have been asked to sanitize door handles, order kiosks, restrooms, counters, and seating and furniture more frequently.

However, while Starbucks employees were advised to regularly wash their hands, McDonald’s employees were told to supplement frequent hand washing with hand sanitizer.

Starbucks employees will also be required to stay home if they are feeling unwell (the chain is giving paid sick leave), keep their fingernails short and not wear a lot of jewelry. Moreover, Starbucks has postponed large meetings and restricted business travel through the end of the month.

6:48 p.m.: FreeWheel Media postpones its upfront event

Comcast subsidiary FreeWheel Media’s NowFront event, originally programmed for March 12, has been postponed as a precautionary measure. “We believe this is the best decision as public health concerns due to coronavirus/Covid-19 continue to evolve,” a statement on the company’s site said.

The event will be rescheduled to a later date.

5:51 p.m.: Zoom removes 40-minute limit on free meetings in China

Zoom said in its prepared remarks before its earnings report video webinar for its fourth quarter and full fiscal year of FY2020 that the video communications company has seen a significant increase of usage of its platform since the coronavirus emergency.

Eric S. Yuan, president and CEO of Zoom, said that the company will expand its capacity to meet the needs of both paid and free users to ensure maximum reliability.

Accordingly, Zoom has removed the 40-minute limit on free meetings in China so that healthcare workers and first responders in affected areas can connect live on video with therapists with feasibility.

Yuan also announced that employees at Zoom’s headquarters in San Jose, Calif. have been directed to work from home unless there is a “business-critical need” for them to be in the office.

5:30 p.m.: Delta suspends all seasonal summer flights between Seattle and Osaka, Japan

Delta Air Lines has canceled its Seattle-Osaka summer flight service for 2020, and will resume its regular scheduling in 2021. As of now, Delta will continue to fly to Osaka from Honolulu.

The decision comes shortly after news broke about the eight coronavirus-related deaths in an area 20 minutes away from downtown Seattle. Per the World Health Organization, 268 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Japan, and six people in Japan have died due to the illness.

Yoshiro Miro, president of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, has reportedly stated that canceling the Games is not being considered as a viable option.

5:24 p.m.: The CMO Club cancels unofficial South by Southwest event 

Salesforce’s latest acquisition, The CMO Club, has canceled its unofficial South by Southwest event due to issues with its planned venue, the Austin-based Indeed headquarters. The job listings site is asking employees to work from home due to coronavirus concerns.

The CMO Clubhouse, an event where club members have congregated with each other annually due to being in town for SXSW, was originally scheduled for March 14.

5:23 p.m.: The TED2020 conference in Vancouver will either be postponed or go digital

Per an email from TED curator Chris Anderson to conference attendees, TED will either postpone its weeklong event originally scheduled for April 20 to 24 to July 26 to 30, or it will be held as a “digital-only gathering.” The alternatives are being considered as compelling options to “outwit” the virus, Anderson said.

TED organizers will be taking feedback until Friday morning and deliberating the pros and cons of either option, and are expected to make a decision by end of the day Monday.

2:56 p.m.: Disney’s U.S. properties remain open, buckling down on hygiene 

Both Disney’s Florida parks and California parks remain open. Per a spokesperson for the company, Disney has been implementing precautionary sanitation policies and practices in light of the viral outbreak. These “stringent” procedures include placing additional hand sanitizers throughout the parks and resorts.

Disney’s Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo locations all remain closed. Tokyo Disneyland will reopen on March 16.

1:14 p.m.: MIPTV 2020, MIPDoc and MIPFormats have all been canceled

MIPTV 2020, MIPDoc and MIPFormats, all programmed to take place in Cannes in late March, have been canceled due to concerns related to coronavirus. MIPTV is one of the largest global TV and online content development events. Its next edition will run as scheduled in April 2021.

Season 3 of the Cannes International Series Festival, originally scheduled to run with MIPTV, will now take place later this year from Oct. 9 to 14. Season 4 will run as scheduled April 12 to 15, 2021.

12:00 p.m.: No Time to Die’s theatrical release has been pushed from April to November 

No Time to Die producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli announced that after thoroughly evaluating the global theatrical marketplace, the film’s release has been postponed to November 2020—the U.K. debut will be on Nov. 12 and the U.S. debut will be on Nov. 25.

11:27 a.m.: South by Southwest will “keep calm and carry on” 

SXSW 2020 will proceed as planned, Austin Public Health officials, Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt announced at a press briefing.

Although one person in Travis County has been tested for the coronavirus, no cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Central Texas. For the past six weeks, over 75 people have been tested for the virus across the state.

Dr. Mark Escott, Austin Public Health’s interim health authority, stated at the briefing that the spread of the coronavirus  isn’t a “matter of if,” but rather, a “matter of when.” Escott emphasized that the region has been “enhancing preparedness” by engaging with major stakeholders to effectively combat the threat COVID-19 poses.

Still, the Austin Public Health department, along with an expert advisory panel made up of a dozen or more physicians from the community and state, have determined that the threat of the infectious disease remains low for the public. The panel also believes that the global mortality rate for the coronavirus (3.4%) is less than what the World Health Organization has reported.

The expert advisory panel—which, Adler stressed, did not include a member from SXSW—has not found evidence that shutting down South by Southwest will make the community any safer. There may be modifications to the venue to increase the distance of people in order to decrease crowd density and therefore the spread of disease, but the mass gathering will go on as planned.

Per Escott, South by Southwest has apparently been “extremely responsive for mitigation strategies,” such as increasing hand sanitizers, hand-washing abilities, messaging for attendees, signage in the convention center to remind people of personal hygiene and screening employees and volunteers to make sure they do not have a febrile illness prior to working the event.

Eckhardt advised the community to “keep calm and carry on.”

10:17 a.m.: Major South by Southwest sponsor Audible drops out of festival

9:41 a.m.: Amazon Studios pulls out of South by Southwest after employee tests positive for virus

Shortly after Amazon confirmed to various publications that one of their employees at the Seattle office has tested positive for COVID-19, Amazon Studios dropped from South by Southwest’s ever-shrinking repertoire of participating brands.

This includes the premieres of two original series—Upload and Tales From the Loopas well as a marketing activation Amazon Prime Video had scheduled with Entertainment Weekly.

The Seattle Times reported that the employee went home feeling ill on Feb. 25 and Amazon has been supporting them in quarantine. Colleagues who were within 6 feet or less of the affected individual have been notified.

March 3, 2020

8:22 p.m.: SAP cancels all in-person events for the month of March 

German business software company SAP has responded to concerns surrounding COVID-19 by canceling all in-person events scheduled for the month of March, which includes SAP Concur Fusion in Orlando, SAP Ariba Live in Las Vegas, SAP NOW events, and third-party events, including South by Southwest.

Alicia Tillman, global CMO of SAP, posted on her Twitter account that the decision was “truly difficult,” but “the best path forward for our employees, customers, partners and communities.” Tillman also announced that SAP’s teams are currently working to find alternatives—”incredible digital experiences”—over the coming weeks.

6:39 p.m.: Qualtrics reschedules X4 Summit

Qualtrics is rescheduling the X4 Summit, which is billed as the world’s largest experience management event. More than 16,000 people were expected to attend the summit March 10-13 in Salt Lake City. Qualtrics says the event “is being moved to later this year in order to provide the experience that our customers, partners, and employees expect and deserve.” Ellen DeGeneres, Michelle Obama, Brené Brown, and Chip and Joanna Gaines were among the speakers.

6:09 p.m.: Fox News cancels upfront event

Fox News Channel has canceled an upfront presentation planned for later this month. “In a precautionary effort to keep our employees, client and agency partners safe, we have determined that it would be best to cancel our upcoming event in New York based on public health concerns due to coronavirus,” said Jeff Collins, evp of Fox News Media Advertising Sales. The broadcast TV network upfront presentations are still planned for the week of May 11.

5:35 p.m.: TikTok pulls out of South by Southwest

Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok has pulled out of South by Southwest, the Austin, Texas-based festival set for March 13 to 22. TikTok follows Facebook and Twitter in withdrawing from the festival. “TikTok has decided not to participate in SXSW this year,” a TikTok spokesperson told Adweek. “While we think the risk is relatively low, we are erring on the side of caution as we prioritize safety for our team, creators, partners, artists and brands. We are looking at a variety of alternative ways to bring parts of the previously scheduled experience to audiences in creative new forms.”

4:31 p.m.: The Dow falls nearly 800 points following emergency rate cut decision

Stocks rose after the Federal Reserve announced its decision to cut its benchmark interest rate by half a percentage point in an effort to bolster the economy as COVID-19 fears disrupt the market. The decision was the first unscheduled, emergency rate cut since 2008, CNN reported. 

However, after the initial points jump following the announcement, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell nearly 800 points. The S&P 500, Nasdaq, Gold and 10-year Treasury indices ended the day’s session off more than 2.5%. 

3:49 p.m.: Google cancels its I/O developer conference

Google I/O, the tech behemoth’s largest programmatic event of the year that was set to take place from May 12-14 at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Calif., has been canceled. I/O 2020’s estimated  7,000 attendees will be refunded in full by March 13 and, instead of having to enter next year’s drawing, they will automatically be granted the option to buy a ticket for next year’s conference. Google is currently “exploring other ways to evolve I/O to best connect with our developer community,” an email sent to attendees states.

3:43 p.m.: Growing coronavirus concerns force Andy Awards to go virtual

The International Andy Awards, hosted yearly by The Ad Club—a trade association for the advertising industry that honors global creative talent in the industry—will change the way jurors conduct their deliberations this year due to the growing coronavirus concerns related to travel. 2020’s cohort of jurors, which hail from 13 different cities around the world, will proceed with their judging duties remotely, and discussion and announcements will be made via a livestream during the event’s originally planned dates (March 15-20).

Per Gina Grillo, president and CEO of The Ad Club, the association feels like the Andys have an obligation to set an example as the first show of the season for “the other shows that may be facing this in the weeks and months to come.”

1:20 p.m.: “Full steam ahead” for NBCU’s Tokyo Olympics plans

At the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom conference today Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said while NBC’s plans for the Tokyo Olympics are “full steam ahead” the company is seeing the effects of coronavirus on its theme parks in Osaka, Japan, which have been closed for two weeks. “That’s probably going to mean about a 7% to 9% decline at the NBCUniversal level for the quarter,” Roberts said.

The epidemic has impacted construction at a new Universal theme park in Beijing where 13,000 construction workers were off the job for several weeks. “We’re back working and I am pleased to be able to say today that our China team believes we will open the park on time despite the disruption that occurred,” Roberts said.

11:30 a.m.: Mashable drops out of South by Southwest

Mashable’s back-out from South by Southwest was announced in a tweet posted on the digital media company’s official social account. The decision to cancel the Mashable House and MashBash experiences were “a really tough call.”

11:28 a.m.: Salesforce prohibits all overseas travel for its employees

Salesforce’s chief legal officer Amy Weaver published a blog post announcing the company’s decision to suspend nonessential travel for its 50,000-or-so global employees, prohibiting all international travel and restricting most domestic travel throughout March. Upcoming in-person events for the company this month, including World Tour Sydney in Australia, have been converted into virtual events. The company is also “enhancing office protocols to ensure the healthiest work environment possible,” CEO Marc Benioff tweeted.

10:45 a.m.: Intel joins Facebook and Twitter in backing out of South by Southwest

Intel announced early this morning that it is joining the fray of high-profile tech companies pulling out of on-site activities at South by Southwest, the 10-day multidisciplinary international festival in Austin, Texas, running from March 13-22. Though the Austin Public Health has stressed that no health departments in the state have raised concerns about canceling any gatherings in light of the outbreak, more than 35,000 people have signed a petition to cancel South by Southwest.

10:01 a.m.: Virgin Voyages to carry on with inaugural cruise after canceling press tour

Richard Branson’s Virgin Voyages’ cruise line canceled its press tour Sunday but told Adweek that there are no plans to cancel the Scarlet Lady’s first cruise on March 26.

“At this time, we have only postponed the showcase events in New York. We’re continuing to closely monitor developments and will make the appropriate decisions regarding our operations very soon,” Virgin said in a statement to Adweek.

9:40 a.m.: Twitter tells all employees to work from home

Twitter added to the coronavirus safety efforts it announced Monday, saying that it is “strongly encouraging” all employees globally to work from home if they are able to do so, and that working from home is mandatory for those in its offices in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea.

The company said Monday that it was suspending all noncritical business travel and events, including CEO Jack Dorsey’s planned appearance at South by Southwest.

Twitter said in an update to its Monday blog post, “We are working to make sure internal meetings, all hands and other important tasks are optimized for remote participation. We recognize that working from home is not ideal for some job functions. For those employees who prefer or need to come into the offices, they will remain open for business. Our real estate and workplace team is increasing deep cleaning and sanitizing in all spaces, as well as adding more visual reminders for personal hygiene best practices and prepackaged, precomposed and preplated food options.”

March 2, 2020

10:25 p.m.: Facebook pulls out of South by Southwest

Facebook announced Monday evening that it is withdrawing from the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. The move follows Twitter’s own decision to pull out of the festival—which is in less than two weeks—and limit business travel for its employees. “Due to concerns related to coronavirus, our company and employees will not be participating in SXSW this year,”  said Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborne in a statement. Last week, the company canceled its F8 developer conference, which was set to be held on May 5 and 6.

7:55 p.m.: Adobe Summit moves online

Adobe has canceled its annual summit in Las Vegas, set for March 29-April 2, and instead will host an online event. “While we are disappointed that we will not be together in-person with our community this year, we are excited to host Adobe Summit as an online experience,” the company said. Last year’s event brought together more than 16,000 people focused on customer experience management. Tom Brady and Gwyneth Paltrow were to be among this year’s speakers.

7:27 p.m.: Expo West postponed following attendee, exhibitor cancellations

Natural Products Expo West, which was to begin tomorrow in Anaheim, Calif., has been postponed. The event brings together producers of natural food products including some of the world’s biggest food makers like Unilever, Procter & Gamble and General Mills. Organizers plan to hold the event “before the summer, either in Anaheim or a suitable alternative location.”

6:16 p.m.: With many jurors barred from travel, The One Show cancels 2020 in-person judging

The One Show today announced it will cancel its in-person judging in Puerto Rico, scheduled to take place over two weeks in March. Instead, the jurors will meet virtually via real-time conferencing to debate submissions and select winners. The One Club’s Creative Week event in New York City remains scheduled May 11-15.

6:02 p.m.: Global holding companies are reacting with suspended travel and office closures 

Some of advertising’s major holding companies are implementing travel restrictions and guidelines in response to COVID-19. Dentsu Aegis Network closed its headquarters in Tokyo last month after an employee contracted the viral pulmonary disease. Dentsu has enforced remote working policies where geographically appropriate (including Tokyo), and has imposed travel restrictions.

Omnicom Group has suspended business travel to and from China, Japan, Hong Kong, Iran, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and Northern Italy. Last month, two of its offices in London were closed due to an employee displaying alarming flu-like symptoms after traveling to Australia via Singapore. Those offices have since reopened.

Havas Group has suspended business travel to and from Greater China, Singapore, South Korea and regions of Italy, Interpublic Group has suspended business travel to and from China and South Korea and Publicis Groupe has restricted travel to China, South Korea and Italy.

Havas, Intercom and Omnicom all have a “14-day confinement period” policy that requires employees returning from recent travel to certain “high-risk exposure areas” to work from home until the self-quarantine is lifted.

4:45 p.m.: Petition to cancel South by Southwest festival creeps toward 25,000-signee goal

A Change.org petition launched last week calling on organizers to cancel the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, crept toward its goal of 25,000 signatures on Monday. The petition was created by Change.org member Shayla Lee, an Austin resident, according to the petition’s website. By Monday afternoon, it had garnered more than 22,000 signatures.

4:02 p.m.: Stocks surge in hopes central banks will mitigate coronavirus impact

U.S. stock markets surged on Monday following Wall Street’s worst week since the 2008 financial crisis. In response to hopes that the Federal Reserve and other central banks would intervene to limit the economic impact of the coronavirus, the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 5% and both the Standard & Poor 500 and Nasdaq finished up more than 4%.

12:19 p.m.: Target opts to broadcast investors meeting From Minneapolis

For its annual investors meeting, Target decided Monday to opt for a remote broadcast from Minneapolis rather than an in-person event, according to the Star Tribune.

March 1, 2020

5:43 p.m.: Coronavirus convinces Twitter to ban all nonessential travel and events

Less than two weeks before South by Southwest where Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was scheduled to speak, the social media platform announced that it would be canceling all “non-critical” business travel and events. Twitter chief human resources officer Jennifer Christie said in a blog post Sunday that the suspension of travel and events would remain in effect “until the World Health Organization or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deem it appropriate to step back from pandemic precautionary measures, or when a vaccine becomes available.”

3:17 p.m.: Thomson Reuters halts nonessential employee travel to China and South Korea

Media company Thomson Reuters has canceled nonessential business travel for its employees to mainland China, Hong Kong and South Korea due to the deadly coronavirus outbreak, according to CNBC.

9:03 a.m.: Dubai Lynx International Festival of Creativity postponed until September

The Dubai Lynx Awards, which were set for March 8-11, announced Sunday morning that the festival would be rescheduled for Sep. 6-9 due to concerns related to the coronavirus. The annual festival honors exceptional creative work in the advertising and communications industry in the Middle East and North Africa.

Feb. 29, 2020

9:59 p.m.: American Physical Society cancels biggest meeting of the year

The American Physical Society, professional society for physicists and researchers with around 55,000 members, canceled a meeting that was to be held in Denver this week. The last-minute cancellation left several would-be attendees in Colorado’s capital with nothing to do.


@klundster kathryn.lundstrom@adweek.com Kathryn Lundstrom is Adweek's breaking news reporter based in Austin.
@monicroqueta monica.zorrilla@adweek.com Mónica is Adweek's breaking news reporter.
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