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Montreal, Toronto Auto Show Organizers Monitoring the Omicron Variant

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Recent weeks saw confirmation that the first two auto shows of the year to be held in Canada, in Montreal and Toronto in January and February, respectively, are going ahead for the first time since the novel coronavirus hit in March 2020.

When we reported the good news, we also recommended a lot of finger crossing. Sure enough, the last two weeks have seen the emergence of the Omicron variant. It is spreading quickly and is causing concern around the world. And, not surprisingly, organizers of the two auto shows are keeping a wary eye on developments. For now, there’s no change to the schedule and both shows are still on. There’s cautious optimism as well that neither event will be affected by any new measures that may be deemed necessary.

Scientists are still working to determine how much more contagious Omicron is than previous variants. So far, it appears to be quite easily transmissible, but tests are still needed to determine just how much. The variant appears be more vaccine-resistant, but less virulent, too. The next week or two should teach us more.

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The Montreal Auto Show is scheduled from January 21 to 30, while the Toronto event is set for February 18 to 27. Here’s where the organizers stand at this point:

“Obviously like any event, we're keeping an eye on the entire situation, but right now with all of the precautions we're taking with masking and vaccine passports being required we don't see an issue at this point in time. We all hope everything stays as it is because people are coming back for events like hockey games and we think there will be a large number of people that will want to come back to the AutoShow.”

- Jason Campbell, executive director of the Canadian International AutoShow (CIAS)

Luis Pereira, executive director of the Montreal Auto Show, said similar protocols are in place for his event. "We're not worried about that right now," he told Automotive News Canada.

There’s another element to keep an eye on, of course, and that is what automakers choose to do. How many will be officially present? The full lists of participants for the two events are not yet known, but even before the latest Covid surge several had already indicated that they will be absent. This does not prevent the presence of vehicles from these brands, as dealers can take over. There will also be new companies, such as VinFast, which plans to offer its first electric models to Canadian consumers soon.

Stay tuned.