Amazon among key tech firms to drop CES plans on COVID-19 concern

Dec 21 (Reuters) – Amazon Inc , Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc (FB.O), Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) and Pinterest Inc (PINS.N) will not send teams to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas as concerns grow about Omicron, the firms said on Tuesday.

CES, which serves as an annual showcase of new trends and gadgets in the technology industry has attracted more than 180,000 people from around the world to a sprawling array of casinos and convention spaces in the past.

Amazon and its smart-home unit Ring said they would not be onsite at next month’s event due to the “quickly shifting situation and uncertainty around the Omicron variant” of coronavirus, the firm’s spokesperson told Reuters in an email.

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Bloomberg News first reported that Amazon and Ring had decided against in-person presence at the show.

U.S. wireless carrier and conference sponsor T-Mobile (TMUS.O) also said the vast majority of its contingent would no longer be going and its chief executive would not deliver a keynote speech.

“We are prioritizing the safety of our team and other attendees with this decision,” T-Mobile said, while expressing confidence that CES organizers were taking exhaustive protective measures.

Attendees head into the Sands Expo and Convention Center during the 2020 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 7, 2020. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

The other companies had not planned large in-person gatherings.

The Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES, said on Tuesday the show would run from Jan. 5 to Jan. 8. Health precautions would include vaccination requirements, masking and the availability of COVID-19 tests, it added.

Twitter had planned to have some employees attend, to participate on panels. However, both Twitter and Facebook have said they are now exploring online opportunities.

Pinterest, before canceling, had planned a scaled-down meeting area for its sales and partner teams, compared to years past.

But many companies, such as Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O), Sony Electronics (6758.T) and Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google and self-driving vehicle unit Waymo have said they are sticking with plans to attend and show off new hardware or host meetings.

On Tuesday, General Motors Co (GM.N) said Chief Executive Mary Barra is still set to introduce the U.S. automaker’s electric Silverado pickup truck and discuss company strategy in person at the conference on Jan. 5.

Other companies had long ago planned for virtual presences, among them chipmaker Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O), which is having two executives deliver a keynote address by video.

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Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in Birmingham, England and Sheila Dang in Dallas;
Additional reporting by Paresh Dave, Stephen Nellis, Helen Coster, Ben Klayman, Dawn Chmielewski, Rhea Binoy and Anirudh Saligrama;
Editing by Aurora Ellis, Matthew Lewis and Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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