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Major firms decide against attending CES due to omicron concerns

Updated December 22, 2021 - 5:44 pm

Several major companies have pulled out of attending the biggest U.S. technology conference next month in Las Vegas over growing concerns about the rapid spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

T-Mobile, Amazon, Twitter, Meta (formerly known as Facebook) and others have announced plans to scale back or outright cancel their planned in-person attendance at next month’s CES, the annual consumer electronics trade show put on by the Consumer Technology Association.

Despite those cancellations and concerns over the more contagious Omicron variant, CES is moving forward with its plans to host the event next month.

“CES 2022 will be in person on January 5-8 in Las Vegas with strong safety measures in place, and our digital access is also available for people that don’t wish to, or can’t travel to Las Vegas. Our mission remains to convene the industry and give those who cannot attend in person the ability to experience the magic of CES digitally,” CES spokesperson Katie Castillo said in a statement.

Castillo said that 42 exhibitors have canceled since last Friday, but that 60 new exhibitors have been added. Roughly 2,200 exhibitors have planned to attend the event, Castillo said.

“Given CES’ comprehensive health measures — vaccination requirement, masking and availability of COVID-19 tests — coupled with lower attendance and social distancing measures, we are confident that attendees and exhibitors can have a socially distanced but worthwhile and productive event in Las Vegas, as well as a rewarding experience on our digital access,” Castillo said.

In a blog post Tuesday, T-Mobile said that it will still serve as a sponsor for the event but that the “vast majority” of its team will not be traveling to Las Vegas.

“After careful consideration and discussion, T-Mobile has made the difficult decision to significantly limit our in-person participation at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. While we are confident that CES organizers are taking exhaustive measures to protect in-person attendees and we had many preventative practices in place as well, we are prioritizing the safety of our team and other attendees with this decision,” the company said.

Twitter, Meta and Amazon have announced that they won’t be attending the event in-person at all.

“Out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees, we won’t be attending CES in-person due to the evolving public health concerns related to COVID-19. We will participate virtually as much as possible and continue to collaborate with the CTA around CES, which remains an important event for Meta, our clients and industry partners,” a Meta spokesperson said in a statement.

“At Twitter, we hold the safety and health of our people and our partners as our #1 priority. With that in mind, due to the spike in COVID cases across the country in the past week, we’ve decided to cancel our in-person presence at CES next month. We’ll continue to actively monitor the situation into the New Year and find other opportunities to connect with our clients and partners,” Twitter said in a statement.

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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