The Consumer Technology Association today announced that CES 2022 attendees will have to prove they've been vaccinated against COVID-19 to make it onto the show floor when the annual tradeshow returns to Las Vegas in January.
"Based on today’s science, we understand vaccines offer us the best hope for stopping the spread of COVID-19,” CTA president and CEO Gary Shapiro said in a statement. “We all play a part in ending the pandemic through encouraging vaccinations and implementing the right safety protocols. We are taking on our responsibility by requiring proof of vaccination to attend CES 2022 in Las Vegas.”
This precaution could also improve CES 2022's chances of remaining an in-person event, despite the rise of coronavirus strains that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are more contagious than previous strains of the virus. Some of those strains have also demonstrated vaccine resistance, but vaccinated individuals are said to typically get less sick than their unvaccinated counterparts.
The speed with which those strains are spreading in the U.S. has led some companies to delay their return to in-office work, re-institute mask mandates, and in some cases require proof of vaccination. It wouldn't be a surprise if many companies were hesitant to send employees to a potential super-spreader event like CES that brings people from all over the country into very close proximity for extended periods.
Those concerns aren't without precedent. The CTA announced in June 2020 that CES 2021 would be a virtual event specifically because, as Shapiro put it, "it's just not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January 2021 to meet and do business in person." The group announced in April that CES 2022 would be in-person, but that was before current COVID-19 strains really started to spread in the US.
For now, the plan is to hold CES 2022 in Las Vegas next January, with this proof of vaccination requirement. The CTA didn't clarify its other policies, but that appears to be due to its desire to follow the latest guidelines provided by the CDC, which could potentially change dramatically in the months leading up to the show. There's little point in announcing rules now only to have to change them down the line.
"CTA is also assessing the acceptance of proof of a positive antibody test as an alternative requirement and will share more details on this later," the CTA said. "Safety, security and health are always a priority at CES, and we will follow state and local guidelines and recommendations by the CDC. CTA will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation and will announce additional protocols closer to the show."