With the number of events being cancelled or postponed around the world due to the coronavirus crisis, there’s been plenty of speculation as to whether the New York Auto Show would go ahead as scheduled in early April.
Until today, organizers played a consistent tune: The Show Must Go On.
Indeed, despite the cancellation of the Geneva Motor Show over fears of the coronavirus spreading further, and even though new cases of COVID-19 infection are being identified almost every day in New York City, the president of the New York International Auto Show, Mark Schienberg, said this week that preparations for the upcoming event were progressing well. What’s more, he said vehicle displays were being added to the schedule and advance ticket sales for the multi-day event were up.
Despite the positive attitude struck by the event's organizers, however, the fact is that the Jacob Javits Center, host of the NY auto show, falls under the jurisdiction of New York State. This means that, no matter that show organizers might want, ultimately the state governor's office, Andrew Cuomo, has the final say as to whether a large-scale public event can go on in this context.
This past Saturday, Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York State, as the number of known cases of coronavirus reached 89. By the afternoon of Thursday, March 10, the total number of confirmed cases stood at 173.
The Jacob Javits Center had increased the rate of disinfection of its washrooms, door handles, and anything else visitors were likely to touch. Companies that work on the presentation of vehicles on the floor had also been instructed to disinfect them more regularly.
In addition, 70 new hand-sanitizing stations had been installed throughout the convention centre.
Despite these measures, the coronavirus got the better of the show and its organizers. It was increasingly clear that caution was in order here. Said Mark Schienberg today, “We are taking this extraordinary step to help protect our attendees, exhibitors and all participants from the coronavirus.”
The next big automotive event on the calendar is the Detroit show, scheduled for June. We can only hope that the coronavirus crisis will have abated by then - for everyone's sake, not just those in the automotive domain.