NY Auto Show, Javits Center Comeback Event, Canceled Over Delta Variant

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The New York International Automobile Show was supposed to be one of the biggest comeback events held at Manhattan’s Javits Center since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020. Thanks to the delta variant, a highly contagious strain of the coronavirus, it’s been canceled for the second time in a row, organizers announced last week.

The show, which had been postponed since April of last year due to the pandemic, was finally supposed to open to the public on Aug. 20

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“As custodians of the 121-year-old New York Auto Show, we are committed to providing a safe environment for everyone,” Mark Schienberg, president of the New York Auto Show, said in a statement. “Over the past few weeks, and especially within the last few days, circumstances have changed making it more difficult to create an event at the high standard that we and our clients expect.”  

While Schienberg was optimistic about the pace of vaccinations in the city and the reduced spread of the coronavirus, the recent surge of cases posed a grim obstacle for the auto show. 

Both the Javits Center’s $1.5 billion expansion, completed in May, and the existing part have not hosted any trade shows or conventions since the mid-March 2020 start of the pandemic. The center was used as a field hospital during the height of the pandemic and later as a vaccination hub.

Analysts and industry insiders don’t expect convention centers in general to return to pre-COVID levels of activity until at least early 2022. While the Javits Center’s 3.3 million square feet of space can host tens of thousands of people attending multiple events at once, capacity at future confabs will likely be limited and convention workers will be required to wear masks indoors.

“In this environment, hosting any large-scale event is a challenge, but there continues to be a great demand for in-person meetings and events throughout the country,” Tony Sclafani, a spokesperson for the Javits Center, said in a statement. “Our first major event since the pandemic, NY NOW, is scheduled to open on Sunday, and we are working closely with event organizers to host a series of upcoming events in the fall.”

Celia Young can be reached at cyoung@commercialobserver.com.