AUSTIN, Texas - A quick look downtown and you'll see no parking signs for SXSW, fences to block those parking spots, and even barriers in the road. What you won't see is the usual crowd this time of the year.
“For Austin, this is a ghost town right now,” said Vincent Santos an Uber and Lyft driver.
With SXSW canceled due to coronavirus concerns, Austin Finely, executive chef at Parkside downtown, said pretty much every business in the area is struggling due to the lack of people. “The toughest part for us as management is telling our staff that they are not going to get the same amount of hours they are expecting,” said Finely.
Even Uber and Lyft drivers are feeling the economic pinch. “For South By, I’m probably losing about $5,000 and it's never going to be made up,” said Santos.
Despite the popular festival being canceled, the area around Parkside is blocked off as if South By was still going on. During regular years Finely said it would be fine because of the amount of people in the area however these road closures now are having an impact foot traffic. “That's when we would get majority of our business because of foot traffic and we would normally be open for lunch but obviously we're not open for lunch this year,” said Finely.
FOX 7 reached out to the Austin Transportation Department on why these parking spaces and roads are still blocked off. According to them, even though SXSW is canceled, they are still expecting more than average the amount of people to show up based on this time of the year.
Jason Deleon came to Austin from California for SXSW, the cancelation not changing his travel plans. “I just figured we're going to make the best of it. I have family out here and we're really trying not to be scared but take precautions like wash our hands and enjoy ourselves it's our vacation,” said Deleon.
The Austin Transportation Department said they still plan to keep some of the road closures however they said they can open some roads up if they feel it's necessary.