Coachella postponed until October over coronavirus fears

The two-weekend Coachella festival set for April will now take place over the weekends starting Friday October 9 and 16

Organizers on Tuesday rescheduled the Coachella music festival for October over coronavirus concerns, following a directive from local health authorities.

"While this decision comes at a time of universal uncertainty, we take the safety and health of our guests, staff and community very seriously," Goldenvoice, the company that puts on the massive event in the California desert, said in a statement.

The two-weekend festival set for April will now take place over the weekends starting Friday October 9 and 16.

"This decision was not taken lightly or without consideration of many factors," Riverside County's public health officer, Cameron Kaiser, said in a statement.

"No doubt it will impact many people, but my top priority is to protect the health of the entire community."

Goldenvoice also postponed the Stagecoach country music festival until October 23-25. It is normally held in April on the same grounds as Coachella in Indio, California.

Tickets bought for the April dates will be valid in October, and those unable to attend will be able to obtain a refund, organizers said.

The announcement comes on the heels of Miami's decision to cancel the Ultra electronic dance music festival and Austin's move to scrap the 10-day South by Southwest tech and culture gathering.

There are now six reported cases of coronavirus in Riverside County -- the municipal authority that governs the Coachella Valley -- likely due to local exposure and not overseas travel, Kaiser said.

The number of US cases of the novel coronavirus surged to more than 900 on Tuesday, according to an AFP tally, after public health experts criticized authorities for downplaying the epidemic and lagging behind in testing efforts.

At least 28 people have died and some 960 people have been infected, according to Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus tracker, a jump of several hundred cases since the previous day.