Aug. 20, 2021—The state of Nevada announced that it would allow organizers of large events to forego mask requirements if they required attendees to show proof of vaccinations. Two of the largest trade shows in the country haven't committed to taking that route, at least at this time.
Tom Gattuso, SEMA vice president of events, didn't say definitively what requirements would be in place during the early November SEMA Show. He did say that organizers are preparing for whatever state and local requirements are in place and that they'll know more in a matter of weeks.
“Our statement is that we are committed to delivering a great show in November," Gattuso said. "The COVID landscape, and the state and local requirements, are changing week to week. So we expect to know more in the coming weeks about what safety measures will be required in November.”
A representative from AAPEX said that the event does not plan to require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test right now.
“At this time, we are not planning to require a COVID vaccine or proof of a negative test prior to entry. We will be following the CDC guidelines and local county regulations as far as mask requirements,” AAPEX spokeswoman Monica Buchholz told NOLN in an emailed statement.
She added that any updates would be posted to the event’s onsite health and safety web page, which doesn’t mention COVID-19. SEMA Show's general attendee guidelines document says that by attending the events, “you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19."
It has been a challenge for organizers to plan events around changing COVID infection rates and local requirements. Gattuso said that they're committed to putting on a SEMA Show in 2021 after the event was held virtually last year.
“We don’t know what the safety guidelines are going to be in November," he said. "But we are fully prepared to be able to adhere to those guidelines as we get closer to the event.”
The SEMA Show can attract around 161,000 people from more than 100 countries to the Las Vegas Convention Center. AAPEX will be held at the same time at the Sands Expo and Caesars Forum.
Most of Nevada’s counties are considered areas of high transmission. That triggers a statewide masking mandate for public indoor spaces, which includes indoor venues. This is in addition to a statewide requirement for all unvaccinated people to wear masks in those settings. Neither spokesperson responded directly to questions about how they could ensure masking requirements could be followed.
Spread among unvaccinated people is the main driver of new infections, 89 percent of which are in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas.
On Tuesday, Nevada announced that organizers of large gatherings could opt out of masking requirements if they can verify that attendees are vaccinated. The Las Vegas Raiders was among the first large organizations to announce that it would follow this guideline and require proof of vaccinations at games. Another major trade show, CES 2022, announced that its January event in Las Vegas will require proof of vaccination. CES rivals the size of the SEMA Show in attendance.
In late July, the music festival Lollapalooza in Chicago required attendees to show proof of vaccines and saw relatively low infection rates.
Vaccines remain the top deterrent to getting COVID-19 or developing serious symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control recommend that people wear masks indoors if they’re in areas of high transmission. The CDC asks that people consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.
For those traveling by plane, masking is still required by the federal government on commercial flights.
Local requirements and recommendations, as well as COVID-19 data, can change on short notice. Additional local information can be found on this web page from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority or on this site from the state of Nevada.