Google cancels one of its biggest annual events amid coronavirus fears

Google CANCELS one of its biggest annual events in San Francisco amid fears over the spread of coronavirus

  • Google cancelled an in-person event for its annual developers conference as fears over the spread of coronavirus escalate
  • The I/O Conference is one of Google’s biggest annual events
  • It will still search for an alternative format for the conference
  • This follows the company’s decision to move its annual Cloud Next conference online and to ban all business travel except for ‘critical’ situations
  • Other major firms have made similar moves to call off their high-profile events, as the coronavirus death toll ramps up

Google is the latest tech company to scrap major event plans as fears over the spread of coronavirus escalate.

The tech giant announced that its annual in-person I/O conference in San Francisco, its biggest event of the year, is being cancelled more than two months before it’s slated to take place. 

‘Due to concerns around the coronavirus (COVID-19), and in accordance with health guidance from the CDC, WHO, and other health authorities, we have decided to cancel the physical Google I/O event at Shoreline Amphitheatre,’ wrote the company in a statement.

It is looking into an ‘alternative format’ for the conference, the company said. 

Google has cancelled one of its biggest annual conferences, the I/0 conference, due to the threat of coronavirus (stock)

Google said that those who purchased tickets for the event, which was slated to take place between May 12th to the 14th, will be refunded by March 13 at the latest.

The conference usually ushers in the company’s latest software features with implications on Google-made hardware and devices that run its operating system, Android.

The announcement followed the company’s decision on Monday to move its annual Cloud Next conference online and to ban all business travel except for ‘critical’ situations, in desperate attempts to help prevent its employees from contracting the disease.

News of the cancellation comes hot on the heels of similar moves made by other major firms to call off their high-profile events, as fears over the coronavirus outbreak ramp up across the globe.

Fellow tech giant Facebook announced this month it was canceling its convention, the F8 developer’s conference, which was due to take place in San Jose, California, in early May.

Facebook’s Konstantinos Papamiltiadis cited ‘growing concerns’ around the virus, leading the tech giant to cancel the ‘in-person component’ of the conference.

Last year the event had drawn crowds of around 5,000 visitors. 

‘This was a tough call to make – F8 is an incredibly important event for Facebook and it’s one of our favourite ways to celebrate all of you from around the world – but we need to prioritise the health and safety of our developer partners, employees and everyone who helps put F8 on,’ he said in a statement.

People attend the Facebook F8 Conference at McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California last year. The event normally features a keynote speech by CEO Mark Zuckerberg

In place of an in-person event, Facebook said it would stage a range of ‘locally hosted events, videos and live-streamed content.’  

Likewise, last month brought the cancellation of the Mobile World Congress, one of the biggest conferences focusing on mobile hardware.

Leading up the the event’s cancellation, major companies like Nokia and LG had both pulled out amid fears of coronavirus. 

The public is calling on others to follow suit, with more than 35,000 people having signed a petition calling for the cancellation of South by Southwest, a media festival in Austin, Texas, this month.  

Pedestrians wearing protective masks while walking along a street in New York last week 

Annual conferences are hotly-anticipated events in the world of tech, and so for firms to scrap them shows the level of anxiety over the spread of coronavirus.

As firms adapt their business plans in response to the outbreak, it also emerged Tuesday that Twitter is ‘strongly encouraging’ its 5,000 staff in the US and across the world to work from home.

The social media giant urged employees to stay away from its various offices.

Travel restrictions are also ramping up, with Trump extending bans to ‘additional countries’, Transportation Security Administration Administrator David Pekoske said Tuesday.

This comes as the coronavirus death toll in the US rose to nine and the number of confirmed cases reached more than 120 across 15 states.

All nine deaths have occurred in Washington state with at least six of them linked to the nursing home facility, LifeCare Center, in Kirkland Seattle where more than 50 residents and staff are also showing symptoms of the disease. 

Cases around the world have risen to almost 93,000 and deaths to over 3,100. 

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