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CES: The show will go on in January 2021, in person

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Despite many conferences and trade shows being canceled in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, one show plans to forge ahead in January: CES.

The world’s largest tech trade show attracted more than 175,000 attendees five months ago, just before the coronavirus went global. Many tech shows are waiting for a redo next year, such as Mobile World Congress, the National Association of Broadcasters and developer conferences for Facebook, Google and Microsoft.

“While we plan to produce another in-person event in Las Vegas, we all face new considerations around attending conferences, conducting business and traveling to meetings,” the show organizer, the Consumer Technology Association, says on its website. “Just as your companies are innovating to overcome the challenges this pandemic presents, we are adapting to the evolving situation.”

There are millions dollars at stake, not just for the CTA but the host city of Las Vegas—with thousands of hotel rooms that regularly get sold out, restaurants, taxis and other components of the service economy that depend on large-scale events. CES 2021 is set for Jan. 6 to 9.

The CES gadget show is dominated by flashy new TVs, cars and wacky gadgets, from Samsung, LG, TCL and Sony. Beyond the trade show floor, many companies rent rooms at the hotels for meetings.

The CES attracts mob scenes at the most crowded booths and walkways.

The coronavirus has led most states to issue stay-at-home orders and emphasize social distancing, and people wear face coverings when out and about and entering businesses.

The CTA said CES 2021 would be different from past exhibitions in that it would be cleaner and regularly sanitized. It promised better social distancing, “including widening aisles in many exhibit areas” and providing more space between seats in conference programs.

Shaking hands will be frowned upon, the CTA said, and attendees will be encouraged to wear masks.

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