“We are emphasizing to the public that this decision is not a cause for alarm, but rather that we are doing it in an abundance of caution,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said at a press conference Friday. Along suspending Ultra, Suarez also announced that Miami’s annual Carnival celebration, Calle Ocho, would also be canceled.
Suarez said the city was following the Center for Disease Control’s current guidelines for postponing or suspending gatherings of over 25,000 people. He also acknowledged the strain this decision will put on Ultra and Calle Ocho, saying, “They have a number of logistical complications with those decisions that may make postponement difficult for this year, so we will be working with them on mitigating factors that impact those events going forward.”
In an official note on its website, Ultra Festival wrote, “We completely understand how extremely frustrating this is because so many of you are looking forward to coming to Ultra, having already made travel arrangements. This is, however, an unprecedented issue which is not being taken lightly, and we must continue to defer to the authorities for guidance. Ultimately, there is no higher priority for us than the health, safety and physical well-being of each of you, together with everyone else involved in the production of the event.”
Ultra Music Festival was scheduled to take place March 20th through 22nd, with music from Flume, Afrojack, Major Lazer, Zedd, David Guetta, DJ Snake, Armin Van Buuren, Carl Cox and more.
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The official announcement comes as no surprise as the week began with Suarez telling reporters that city administrators had asked Ultra organizers to consider revising their safety plans to account for coronavirus. By Wednesday, Suarez and Commissioner Joe Carollo were saying they wanted to postpone the festival, and a deal was reportedly hashed out with Ultra Fest representatives not long after.
The decision to call off Ultra Festival came as the CDC confirmed that two Florida residents had tested positive for coronavirus. While that was certainly cause for concern ahead of a huge gathering at Miami’s Bayfront Park — which can accommodate about 55,000 people a day — as Mayor Suarez noted Monday, Ultra was particularly unique in that it brought in festival-goers from around the world.
Ultra is the first major U.S. music festival to be canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak. For the past few months, the virus has wreaked havoc on the Asian live music market as an array of regional acts canceled shows and Western acts plotting overseas tours — like Green Day, Stormzy, Khalid and the National — soon following suit.
In the United States, the spread of coronavirus has happened to coincide exactly with the start of festival season. Over 20,000 people have called for South by Southwest in Austin to be canceled, and while the overall event does seem like it will go ahead as planned, there have been some cancellations and companies like Apple, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok have pulled their employees from the event.
As Rolling Stone reported, other major festivals are looking into ways they can swiftly add extra health measures, like implementing “fever screenings,” in which technicians check out attendees via thermal imaging cameras and turn away those who show a high temperature and other “exposure risks.”