Organizers of the Canadian International AutoShow (CIAS) are seeking direction from the Ontario government concerning its COVID-19 rules for indoor and outdoor events before committing to holding the 2022 show.
“Hopefully in the next 30 days there will be greater clarity about the ability to host an event,” CIAS General Manager Jason Campbell told Automotive News Canada. “Events now are so restrictive that it would make it very difficult to imagine being able to host it (in February).”
A decision on whether to hold the 2022 show, slated to run Feb. 11-20 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, will be made by mid-November, Campbell said.
Currently, provincial rules state indoor and outdoor events are only allowed to have 50 per cent of normal seating capacity, although that may soon change.
The Ontario government announced on Sept. 1 the first phase of an enhanced COVID-19 vaccine certificate system, requiring residents to show proof they have been fully vaccinated with a vaccination receipt and valid photo identification, will begin Sept. 22. It will be followed by the introduction of an app on Oct. 22.
Ivana Yelich, spokeswoman for Premier Doug Ford said the province will be releasing guidance on proof of vaccination “very soon,” but stressed there will be a cautious approach towards expanding attendance numbers to protect hospitals and avoid future lockdowns.
“This includes not expanding capacity limits in any setting at this time,” Yelich said. “As we monitor the impact of opening schools and the growing number of people returning to workplaces, we will evaluate when it may be safe to consider expanding capacity limits in settings that are captured by the new vaccine certificate policy.”
Dr. Kieran Moore, the province’s top public health official, stated in late August that an event could be classified as “very low risk” if it is determined everyone has been double vaccinated.
The CIAS is annually the largest consumer show in Canada and attracts more than 350,000 consumers. Depending on the day, it averages between 30,000-50,000 per day. The show was cancelled last year due to COVID-19.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors, and Rogers Media, which owns the Toronto Blue Jays, have been applying pressure on the province to allow their teams to play to maximum capacity.
“There’s expected to be considerable demand from both consumers and events to open up, especially with vaccine passports and masking, to have more people in indoor facilities,” Campbell said. “That number really needs to be what we watch and we can be patient.”
Campbell speculated that once the first phase of the vaccine passports begins there will be a greater flexibility.
“We really can’t make a decision until public health guidance is altered,” he said. “I know the government is taking a very cautious approach for having been challenged on this in past responses.”
Campbell said there is support from manufacturers and vendors interested in seeing the show continue next year. There have already been some regional auto shows that are in jeopardy of continuing in 2022 because of defections from manufacturers.
CIAS isn’t the only auto show in a wait-and-see mode.
Denis Dessureault, executive vice-president of the Montreal International Auto Show, which runs from Jan. 21-30, said a decision on whether to go forward with next year’s event will be made by the end of this month. He said as many as six manufacturers, which represent one quarter of the show’s entire roster, may be defections.
Honda, Mitsubishi, Mazda and Volkswagen have indicated they will not participate in the show, which usually draws about 200,000 people, said Dessureault.
“We are working to prepare a show, but it’s the [manufacturers] that will have the last word,’ Dessureault said. “To use industry talk, everyone has their foot on the brake. They are all looking at each other. We have verbal confirmation but nothing is signed. They all want to wait until the end of this month.”