By on February 17, 2020

Thanks to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in China, the Beijing auto show has reportedly been postponed. While the event was supposed to take place at the end of April, making its yearly trade with the similarly biannual Shanghai trade show, organizers have decided it’s not worth the risk.

Over 70,000 people have reportedly contracted the virus thus far, with the death toll estimated to be somewhere around 1,700. The White House recently said it did not have “high confidence in the information coming out of China,” estimating higher figures. Travel and shipping bans further complicate the matter. Germany’s Automobilwoche said exhibitors wouldn’t be able to ship displays into the country anyway, referencing health notices sent to global logistics organization CIETC. 

Reuters also reported that the event’s organizers chose to postpone the show. Its new date will be announced at a later date. However, with the virus continuing to spread, it’s unlikely that will occur anytime soon. While the World Health Organization has come to China’s defense, saying it’s been more transparent with the coronavirus outbreak than, say, SARS, few have taken its advice in avoiding “measures that unnecessarily interfere with international trade or travel.”

No organization wants to be the one that allowed this to go from a regional Asian epidemic to a global pandemic.

Formula 1 recently decided to axe the Chinese Grand Prix, originally scheduled for April 19th. The FIA said the race would be moved closer to the end of the 2020 season. The Chinese round of the Formula E series is likewise being cancelled with similar plans to relaunch once the virus has been brought under control. Unfortunately, nobody knows when that will be, so there’s no way of knowing when these races might actually happen.

This is all in addition to countless factory closings gumming up supply lines and loads of undone events that have nothing to do with vehicles or China.

Japan recently decided to cancel Emperor Naruhito’s birthday and the Tokyo marathon — saying it was deeply concerned the events would contribute to the spread of the new coronavirus. Meanwhile, Facebook nixed a global marketing conference in San Francisco under similar circumstances. Even North Korea, which has largely isolated itself from other countries, stopped a planned military parade due to the outbreak. These are just a handful of recent examples; the outbreak has encouraged dozens of global gatherings to be indefinitely delayed.

While most of the events being cancelled were scheduled to take place over the next two months, it’s possible problems could continue into the spring. Chinese workers have reportedly returned to factories in regions less impacted by the virus over the past week, though employee attendance remains spotty. Travel restrictions still exist within China’s borders; many simply don’t want to take the risk of contagion when the country’s response to infection is often forced quarantine. The American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai believes the brunt of U.S. manufacturers operating within the country will resume work over the next month, claiming that it expects most facilities to be short on staff for quite some time — as many returning workers will still be subject to a quarantine period of two weeks.

That means normalcy wouldn’t return to the region until March under the most idyllic of circumstances, which this most surely is not.

[Image: B.Zhou/Shutterstock]

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