Yesterday we found out that the New York Auto Show has been cancelled, due to concerns about the delta variant. NYIAS is one of the largest in the auto show season (and the one in my hometown.) The show had already been pushed back from the spring and was set to open in only 2 weeks. Its venue, the Javits Center, only just reopened a couple of days ago, after having been converted to a medical facility during the pandemic.

Over the last few months New York City has begun to feel like its old self again. As more of us got vaccinated and restrictions were lifted, it began to feel like we might get back to something approaching “normal” sooner rather than later. Some types of normalcy returned faster than others. Side note – never have I been so happy to find myself stuck in rush hour traffic on the FDR Drive or inching past the 59th Street Bridge on Second Avenue.

The events industry also has come back from a moribund time, with brands increasingly planning for in-person events again and calendars filling up into 2022. There’s clearly a pent-up demand for the lost benefits of live events like trade shows, both for the exhibitors and for the attendees. So there’s been an almost inexorable pull towards getting event calendars back on track.

The rise of the delta variant (as well as vaccine hesitancy) threatens to throw all this progress into reverse. The last minute cancellation of NYIAS feels uncomfortably like last fall, when the dominos started to fall, from MWC in Barcelona to SXSW in Austin. Will we see the same kind of wholesale cancellation of events again?

I’d argue (and certainly hope) that we won’t, at least not here in the US. Unlike many parts of the world, vaccines here are widely and freely available. And despite some concerning reports of breakthrough infections from delta, they still seem to be highly effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths.

So unlike the case last spring, organizers of events this summer and fall have other options. Instead of canceling they can require attendees to show proof of vaccination, for instance. We’re already seeing such policies implemented for other types of events like sports and concerts.

It would be nice if there was a more standardized methodology for establishing proof of vaccination, but even without that we can make do. New York State has a mobile app in which to store such proof, and New York City has its own, for good measure. Or you can always go with the paper cards – conveniently sized to not fit easily into anyone’s wallet.

We’re not out of the woods yet with this pandemic, and there are some messy times still to come. And we’ll surely be living with Covid in some form or another for generations to come, just as we deal with the flu and cold season every year. We can’t eliminate every risk, eventually we need to get on with our lives. We’ve all fought hard for the progress we’ve made so far. Let’s not give it up without a fight.

Featured Image: via Car and Driver