Health Watch

San Antonio postpones 129-year-old Fiesta celebration amid coronavirus concerns

San Antonio postpones 129-year-old Fiesta celebration amid coronavirus

Ford Fiesta de las Luminarias
Fiesta will now take place in November.  Photo courtesy of San Antonio River Walk

Fiesta San Antonio has been postponed from April 16-26 to November 5-15 as the city grapples with the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic, officials announced March 13.

Fiesta San Antonio dates back to 1891. The annual festival draws roughly 3.5 million attendees and generates an economic impact of more than $340 million, which is close to the economic impact of Austin’s SXSW event.

In deciding to delay the event, leaders of Fiesta cited “unknown health risks.”

“Fiesta is San Antonio,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg told reporters. “It has been our tradition for almost 130 years, and we’re counting on a collective effort by those venues of and suppliers to Fiesta events to work with the Fiesta nonprofits to move their events to the fall in a cost-effective way.”

“It is a party with a purpose, and so the party will go on,” he added.

Nirenberg said November 5-15 was the best window of time for the postponed Fiesta thanks to availability of in-demand venues and fewer conflicts with other events. However, San Antonio is “a town that can have more than one party at the same time,” said the mayor, noting that the city will take precautions to protect the public’s health.

Shortly before the Fiesta delay was announced, the City of San Antonio instituted a seven-day ban on all gatherings with at least 500 people after the city confirmed its first travel-related case of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The city encouraged, but did not mandate, cancellation or postponement of public events with at least 250 attendees.

The clampdown on big public events is part of a seven-day public health emergency that Nirenberg declared March 13.

Government officials say the new coronavirus case isn’t connected with any of the cruise ship passengers who are quarantined at Lackland Air Force Base. As of March 11, only quarantined coronavirus patients from Texas can be housed at Lackland for more than 72 hours.

Nirenberg said the new coronavirus case stemmed from out-of-state travel. The case was discovered the night of March 12, and the patient has self-quarantined.

“We will get through this,” Nirenberg said.