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Bans on large gatherings in Washington, San Francisco a bad sign for tech events

Washington state and San Francisco announced a ban on large gatherings through the end of the month to reduce the spread of Covid-19, commonly known as coronavirus, meaning that all events — including tech events –will be canceled or postponed. 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced a ban of gatherings of more than 250 in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties, which are all apart of the Seattle metro area, until April 1. Meanwhile, San Francisco Mayor London Breed banned groups of more than 1,000 people until at least March 25 and possibly after. Both bans were announced on Wednesday, March 11, the same day that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a pandemic. 

“We know that this order is disruptive, but it is an important step to support public health,” Breed said in a statement. “We’re following the recommendations of public health officials to slow the spread of Covid-19 in our community. This order mirrors actions being taken by other local governments and is informed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. We know canceling these events is a challenge for everyone, and we’ve been talking with venues and event organizers about the need to protect public health.”

Since both Seattle and San Francisco are major tech hubs, this means that upcoming tech events are canceled as part of these public health orders. The following tech events have already been canceled, postponed or made virtual in Washington and San Francisco: 

  • Game Developers Conference in San Fransisco (postponed)
  • Accelerate Good Global in San Francisco (now virtual) 
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s EmTech Digital in San Francisco (now virtual) 
  • Bitcoin 2020 in San Francisco (postponed)
  • Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle (postponed)

A mass ban on large events could seriously impact the other tech events scheduled for the rest of the year. While Seattle’s Microsoft Build Conference is not until May, the large gatherings ban could result in that much-anticipated event being delayed as a precaution, especially since Seattle’s coronavirus numbers are the highest in the country. Digital Trends reached out to Microsoft Build Conference to comment on if the event is still planned to go on, and we will update this story when we hear back. 

Events are being canceled or postponed left and right across the country amid the coronavirus outbreak, including South by Southwest in Austin, E3 2020 in Los Angeles, the New York Auto Show, Google’s I/O Conference in San Jose, California, and many more. 

In total, there have been more than 124,570 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, and 4,584 confirmed deaths. The virus is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, but there have been confirmed cases in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, and more countries around the globe.

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