Lenovo has become the latest company to announce it won't have a physical presence at CES 2022. On Wednesday evening, the consumer and enterprise electronics manufacturer said it wouldn't have on-site personnel at the event to protect the health of its employees and customers.
"After closely monitoring the current trends surrounding COVID, it is in the best interest of the health and safety of our employees, customers, partners, and our communities to suspend all on-site activity in Las Vegas," the company said on Twitter. "While this is a change in plans, we are excited for you all to see our latest technology launching as scheduled on January 4th and January 5th."
CES UPDATE: After closely monitoring the current trends surrounding COVID, it is in the best interest of the health and safety of our employees, customers, partners, and our communities to suspend all on-site activity in Las Vegas.
— Lenovo Stories & News (@LenovoNews) December 23, 2021
Lenovo follows Amazon, Meta, Twitter and show sponsor T-Mobile in backing away from the trade show. All four said they would not attend in person due to concerns related to the new COVID-19 omicron variant. And while they're all important names in tech, they're not a hardware player in the same way Lenovo is, nor have they historically had as large of a physical presence at the show as it has in years past.
For the time being, the Consumer Technology Association, the organization that puts together CES every year, still plans to move forward with the event. "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," the organization told TechCrunch.
There's still much that scientists don't know about omicron, but early data suggests it's a highly transmissible strain of the coronavirus. Federal health officials said on Monday the variant accounted for 73 percent of all new cases nationwide the week ending December 18th. It made up 12.6 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the US just seven days earlier. In some areas of the country, including parts of New York states and the Pacific Northwest, the variant's share was even higher. Scientists have also found most non-mRNA vaccines, including Sinovac and Sinophram, offer little protection against the strain. It's understandable then why many companies want to play it safe, and it's fair to say Lenovo probably won't be the last to pull out of CES 2022.
Update 12:31PM ET: Alphabet's autonomous car unit Waymo announced today it too won't have a physical presence at CES 2022. The company says it will still participate virtually in some CES-related events, but it won't have a booth at the event.
The safety and wellbeing of our team is our top priority, so based on quickly evolving COVID infection rates, Waymo has made the tough decision not to participate in person at CES’22. We are aiming to still virtually participate in some CES-related events https://t.co/2BBmwYeQWk
— Waymo (@Waymo) December 23, 2021
Update 2:05PM ET: Intel has also decided to pull out of CES 2022. The company told TechCrunch it's moving to minimize its physical presence at the event. “After consulting with health officials and in the spirit of Intel’s safety policy, our plans for CES will move to a digital-first, live experience, with minimal on-site staff," the company said.
Update 4:20PM ET: You can now add General Motors to the above list. The automaker had planned to debut its electric Silverado pickup at the event. Instead, it will now do so via an online presentation, per Automotive News.
Update 5:24PM ET: Google has become the latest company to cancel its in-person plans for the event. "After careful consideration we have decided to withhold from having a presence on the show floor of CES 2022," the company said. "We’ve been closely monitoring the development of the omicron variant, and have decided that this is the best choice for the health and safety of our teams."
Update 3:30PM ET January 24th, 2022: Microsoft will no longer be exhibiting live at the show. “After reviewing the latest data on the rapidly evolving COVID environment, Microsoft has decided not to participate in-person at CES 2022,” a company spokesperson told The Verge in an e-mailed statement on Friday.
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