SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Organizers for the famed Burning Man celebration called off the annual Summer counter-culture gathering in the Nevada desert this year over concerns about the current coronavirus outbreak.
In an Instagram post, the organizers said they were canceling the event for the first time in 34 years as a precaution against the possible spread of the illness in crowded settings.READ MORE: FDA Clears Johnson & Johnson's Single-Dose COVID-19 Vaccine for Immediate Use
“In the interest of the health and wellbeing of our community, we have decided to not build Black Rock City in the Nevada desert this year,” the social media post said. “Burning Man, however, is alive and well, and we look forward to seeing you in the Multiverse.”
In a blog post, the organizers said they wrestled with the decision as the virus outbreak forced the rescheduling of other events like the Coachella and Bottlerock music festivals to the fall.
“Given the painful reality of COVID-19, one of the greatest global challenges of our lifetimes, we believe this is the right thing to do,” they wrote. “Yes, we are heartbroken. We know you are too. In 2020 need human connection and immediacy more than ever. But public health and the well being of our participants, staff, and neighbors in Nevada are our highest priorities.”READ MORE: Sacramento Doctor Appears in Virtual Traffic Court While Performing Surgery
The organizers also said those who have purchased tickets to this year’s event — which was scheduled from Aug. 30-Sept. 7 — would be completely refunded.
“Some of you who already purchased a ticket for the playa may need the money now more than ever,” the organizers wrote. “We’re committed to providing refunds to those who need them, but we’re also committed to keeping the Burning Man culture alive and thriving and to ensuring our organization stays operational into next year’s event season.”
However, the organizers said, there would be layoffs and pay cuts among its current staff.MORE NEWS: San Francisco Police Return Stolen Puppy to Richmond Family
The event began as a gathering to celebrate art, life and music on San Francisco’s Baker Beach. Over the next 36 years, the annual gathering relocated to the Nevada desert and grew to an annual attendance topping 50,000 or more.