CTA's Gary Shapiro on In-Person CES 2022: Time to Get Back to Normal

The CES 2020 show opening arch.
(Image credit: CES)

Consumer Technology Association president Gary Shapiro said exhibitors keep signing up for CES 2022, which launches Wednesday (January 5), and that he will feel safer there than he does at his local grocery store.

That is according to a transcript from Fox Business Network of Shapiro's appearance Tuesday on the network to talk about CES.

Shapiro said the number of exhibitors had actually increased -- the new number is 2,300 -- which comes despite some big-name drop-outs including Amazon, Google and T-Mobile over COVID-19 concerns. That is compared to the 1,700 exhibitors CES was reporting a few weeks ago, said Shapiro. "They keep signing up; we've had lots in November and lots in December," he said.

Asked why those concerned that CES might be a "superspreader event" were wrong, Shapiro said that CTA had done "everything we were supposed to do," including requiring everyone attending to have been vaccinated. In addition, CES is requiring masks and providing free tests.

Then there are the safety protocols, from limiting seating to social distancing to new types of ventilation and wider, one-way, aisles, he said, adding: "So, we've done everything we possibly can do."

But he also said it was just time to "get back to normal," and, "this is what we heard from President Biden in the last few weeks repeatedly. We've heard it from Republicans as well and other Democrats."

"We've lived with the flu all our lives and we knew there were risks there," Shapiro said. "We live with cars, we live with other things. We go to the grocery store and I feel more comfortable going to CES, in the CES bubble with only vaccinated and masked people, than I do going to my local grocery store."

His comments echoed some of the points Shapiro made in a LinkedIn post explaining the rationale for going on with the convention, partly to avoid letting down smaller companies that invested in CES exhibits to get exposure for their products. "CES will and must go on," Shapiro's post read. "It will have many more small companies than large ones. It may have big gaps on the show floor. Certainly, it will be different from previous years. It may be messy. But innovation is messy. It is risky and uncomfortable." 

On FBN, Shapiro also talked about the record number of senators who are coming and the "great showing" planned by the Biden Administration, which is to include Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.

Rep. James Clyburn, by contrast, has pulled out of his planned speech, according to his communications director, who cited a "scheduling change." ■

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.