In a move that might come as a surprise to many, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) announced today that it is canceling the 2020 SEMA Show, after claiming for months that an in-person experience would still be taking place.
SEMA President & CEO, Chris Kersting said in a release, "While both event organizers and industry members have been working tirelessly to deliver an outstanding SEMA Show in November, mounting uncertainty has rendered continuing with the event inadvisable."
This is quite the about-face, as just a few days ago SEMA was pushing hard for the November show to go on as usual. Vice President of Events Tom Gattuso offered Motor1.com the following statement on July 15th:
"Managing social density and physical distancing is a key factor in maintaining the health and safety of visitors to the SEMA Show. We're working with state and city officials to determine what the ideal levels are. With more than 3 million square feet of indoor and outdoor space at the convention center, we are confident we will be able to effectively direct traffic and safely manage crowds."
Multiple social media posts and livestream talks by the association indicated that all signs pointed to the 2020 SEMA Show happening, despite events of a similar size like CES switching to a digital-only format. SEMA put together a detailed safety plan, which included temperature checks and face masks, claiming that it would make the Las Vegas Convention Center safe enough to host the presumed tens of thousands that typically attend.
Clark County, which is home to Las Vegas, has seen a sizable upward trend in COVID-19 cases since reopening hotels and casinos weeks ago. The latest data shows over 52,000 confirmed cases for the county, and between 800 and1,000 new cases each day.
SEMA doesn't cite a singular reason for canceling the show, but the release mentions a recent exhibitor survey that gauged comfort levels. The association mentioned that a digital experience is still on the table, but for now, it seems apparent that it came to the correct decision, even after months of alluding otherwise.