Geneva, Switzerland - The Geneva auto show, due to be held 5-15 March, has been cancelled after the Swiss government banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people.
"We regret to announce the 2020 Geneva motor show will be cancelled. This is force majeure, circumstances over which we have no control," Maurice Turrettini, chairman of the show's board of trustees, said at a news conference on 28 Feb.
Organisers said the show will not be rescheduled to a later date. "The show cannot be postponed. It's not possible. It's too big. It's not feasible," said the show's director, Olivier Rihs.
The show's board said the the construction of the stands was nearly completed and dismantling will be organised immediately.
"The financial consequences of this cancellation will have to be examined and evaluated in the coming weeks," it said. People who have already bought tickets will have their money refunded, the board said.
Earlier on 28 Feb, Swiss Federal Heath Minister Alain Berset announced that events involving more than 1,000 people were prohibited with immediate effect.
"In view of the current situation and the spread of the coronavirus, the Federal Council has categorised the situation in Switzerland as 'special' in terms of the Epidemics Act," the cabinet said after a meeting. "Large-scale events involving more than 1,000 people are to be banned. The ban comes into immediate effect and will apply at least until 15 March."
The move aims to avoid crowds congregating in confined places such as concert and exhibition halls and public celebrations.
It will not, at least for now, apply to train stations and shopping malls where people have only fleeting contact, officials said.
The Geneva show is one of Europe’s glitziest and biggest auto exhibitions, with a high proportion of luxury and sports models on display. It was first staged in 1905 and last canceled during World War 2 and its aftermath.
Top executives from automakers spanning Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW to Honda and Toyota usually attend the Geneva show.