It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you we have canceled NatCon20.
This is incredibly disappointing, but the City of Austin and Travis County, Texas have decided that we are legally prohibited from holding NatCon20. Specifically, they issued a ban on all events that would include more than 250 people, so The Austin Convention Center has officially cancelled NatCon20. The ban on public or private gatherings, part of orders adopted by Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, takes effect 2 a.m. CT Sunday, March 15, and will continue until at least May 1, 2020.
This unprecedented step to cancel our conference is driven by a global public health crisis that is entirely out of our control. So, while we are saddened that we must cancel NatCon20, we realize this is the only possible course of action. This is about much more than our conference. This is about limiting the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). We must respect the decisions and legal mandates of local and federal health officials.
And we acknowledge that we have a unique social responsibility. We simply will not do anything to put you in harm’s way. We will not put our staff members in harm’s way. The health and welfare of our members and employees remain a top priority. You represent the foundation of this fantastic organization.
For those who were frustrated with the timing of this decision, please understand that we had to be very deliberate and await the decisions of those with the authority to approve or cancel our conference. I deeply appreciate the patience all of you exhibited while we waited for the City of Austin to complete its due diligence, and please understand that we have been as transparent as possible.
Now that city officials have made their decision, we can move forward with answering your questions.
You are responsible for cancelling both your airline and hotel reservations. Please make sure to reach out directly to your hotel to cancel your upcoming reservation. You can also search the list of hotels here.
In addition, you’ll need to reach out to your airline directly to cancel your flight; each airline’s policies for how they are dealing with reservations, cancellations, change fees, and the like in the wake of COVID-19 are different, but most are reportedly being very cooperative and helpful.
We have already started planning for NatCon21 in Denver, and I hope to see you there.
In the meantime, please do everything you can to remain healthy. We will continue to keep you informed because we want you to be safe and confident that we have your best interests at heart – even if our hearts are heavy today.
Chuck Ingoglia President and CEO National Council for Behavioral Health