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March 12 Update on COVID-19

With a month until PyCon US 2020’s scheduled start, the Python Software Foundation Board and Staff are working through our options for PyCon US 2020, and will keep you updated as decisions are made.

In the meantime, remember that PyCon US will refund any tickets with no questions asked. You do not need to commit to travel to PyCon US at this point in time if you do not want to.

The Foundation is currently exploring options to re-schedule or cancel the conference. Any final decision to cancel or reschedule PyCon US will be made early enough to give you time to cancel or defer your travel plans.

We continue to monitor advice from the Federal, Pennsylvania, Allegheny County, and Pittsburgh Governments, and our planning is taking this advice into account.

We’d like to explain why this decision – and any announcement – is taking time.

A decision to reschedule or cancel PyCon US needs to be made with the best interests of the international Python community in mind. First and foremost is the health and safety of everyone in the community, and the Foundation understands the risk that a large gathering like PyCon US poses to the community. It is front of mind in every discussion we are having at the moment.

On the other hand, the Foundation has a mission to support the global Python community, and does so through grants, sponsorships, and funding core infrastructure that the community relies on.
PyCon US is the majority source of the Foundation’s revenue.

Since the last time PyCon US returned a loss, the Python Software Foundation has grown and managed a cash reserve to handle the (usually unlikely) case of PyCon US not proceeding due to unforeseen circumstances. Keeping this reserve healthy allows us to plan future PyCons with confidence, while still building our support for the community.

Running a conference at PyCon US’s scale involves signing contracts with many vendors, and in most cases, cancelling contracts exposes the Foundation to penalties. If we were to cancel PyCon US now, beyond simply cancelling the event and forgoing sponsorship and ticket revenue, we may need to pay out substantial amounts of money in penalties.

Those penalties would need to be paid out of our cash reserve, so the Foundation would, for the foreseeable future, need to work on rebuilding its cash reserve instead of running the programs the community has come to expect from us.

During that period of rebuilding, another event like what we are facing this year would be a significant setback to the Foundation.

One option that would reduce our exposure to penalties would be official government advice restricting conferences in Pittsburgh, preventing PyCon US from being held.

Therefore, the Foundation is presently investigating options to reduce the long-term damage that rescheduling or cancelling PyCon US would cause to the community. We believe there are options available to us that will allow the Foundation to run as expected over the coming years.

We appreciate the patience you’re showing as we work through this difficult situation.

We will provide another update, on or before Friday March 20th.

This post is authored by the PSF Board of Directors