Hearthstone Fireside gatherings started as events officially sanctioned by Blizzard and organized by local communities all around the world.
Sometime around three years ago, they were incorporated into the game itself, making the process much more streamlined for everyone, from organizations to participants. This also made things easier for Blizzard, who now had greater overall control, and could easily prevent any fake or malicious events, sanction bad organizers, etc.
This also opened space for special in-game events for everyone who participated in Fireside Gatherings, such are unique Brawl, game modes, and exclusive card backs.
Traditionally, the last weekend before the new expansion launch is always reserved for special Pre-Release Fireside Gatherings. There, players could gather, hang out, and open their new expansion packs a few days earlier, and even play with all the new cards they got, against other people while they are there. Unfortunately, this won't be happening this time around, due to COVID19 prevention measures.
In a short notice on Battle.net forums, Blizzard officials said that they are disabling all public Fireside Gatherings, and canceling all official Fireside Gatherings for the near future. However, they added that they will still allow players to create their own "1-man-gatherings" because they still want everyone how pre-ordered packs to be able to participate in early pack opening if they so desire.