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CES will go ahead as an in-person event next year

The CTA is forging ahead, despite COVID-19 forcing the cancellation of many other events.
Kris Holt, @krisholt
June 3, 2020
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A crowd makes their way through the showroom floor at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 5, 2017.  / AFP / Frederic J. BROWN        (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
FREDERIC J. BROWN via Getty Images

CES 2021 is still scheduled to take place as an in-person event despite COVID-19 having a firm hold over most walks of life. Although many, many other events and conferences have been canceled this year, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) seems confident that CES can take place in January with safety measures in place.

The trade show is typically packed, with hundreds of thousands of attendees and exhibitors on site. Regardless, the CTA believes it can enable social distancing practices by "widening aisles in many exhibit areas" and putting more space between seats during events and in other areas where people come together. The organization says various spaces across the show locations will be cleaned and sanitized regularly, with hand sanitizer stations placed throughout.

The CTA notes that "the meetings world is developing and implementing best practices, and we will assess and evaluate the latest solutions in the coming months." It doesn't have concrete plans to take temperature readings at entry points just yet, but it'll "evaluate solutions for contactless thermal scans." There'll be increased access to medical aid and health services on-site as well. 

The organization will also encourage attendees and exhibitors to adopt best practices for the likes of shaking hands and wearing masks. When asked by Engadget whether face coverings would be mandatory or if CES would have a smaller capacity next year, a CTA spokesperson did not provide further clarification.

CES 2021 won't take place for another seven months, and a lot can change in that time -- including future waves of coronavirus infections -- so it's perhaps a little premature to make firm plans for next year. At least one CES 2020 attendee had COVID-19 around the time of the event, and many others often leave Las Vegas with a case of the "CES flu."

In any case, the CTA says major brands have committed to next year's show. CES 2021 will have a larger livestreaming schedule as part of the show's expanded digital presence, and the organization says it'll "showcase our exhibitors’ products, technology breakthroughs and ideas to the world, both physically in Las Vegas and digitally." Whether it'll actually be safe enough for a huge number of people to attend CES in person is still up in the air.

Update 6/3 3:15 PM ET: Noted that the CTA did not provide further clarification about masks or CES 2021 capacity.

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