In a move that might come as a surprise to many, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) today announced it is canceling the SEMA Show 2020, after claiming for months that an in-person experience will still take place.
SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting said in a statement, “As event planners and members of the industry have worked tirelessly to deliver an exceptional SEMA Show in November, the uncertainty growth made continuation of the event not recommended. “
It’s a flip-flop, because just a few days ago, SEMA was pushing for the November show to continue as usual. Vice President of Events Tom Gattuso offered Motor1.com the following statement on July 15:
“Managing social density and physical distance is a key factor in maintaining the health and safety of visitors to the SEMA Show. We are working with state and city authorities to determine what the ideal levels are. With over 3 million square feet of indoor and outdoor space at the convention center, we are confident that we will be able to effectively direct traffic and safely handle crowds.
Several social media posts and live chats from the association have indicated that all signs point to the SEMA Show 2020 happening, despite similarly sized events, like CES, switching to a digital-only format. SEMA came up with a detailed security plan, which included temperature checks and face masks, claiming that this would make the Las Vegas Convention Center safe enough to accommodate the alleged tens of thousands who typically attend.
Clark County, home to Las Vegas, has seen a dramatic upward trend in COVID-19 cases since hotels and casinos reopened weeks ago. The latest data shows more than 52,000 confirmed cases for the county and between 800 and 1,000 new cases every day.
SEMA doesn’t cite a single reason for canceling the show, but the release mentions a recent survey of exhibitors that assessed comfort levels. The association mentioned that a digital experiment is still on the table, but for now it seems clear that it came to the right decision, even after months of hinting otherwise.