T-Mobile, AT&T, TikTok and other tech companies are scaling back their CES 2022 plans because of COVID-19 concerns. T-Mobile announced Tuesday that CEO Mike Sievert is no longer scheduled to deliver a keynote presentation either in person or virtually and that the company is planning to “significantly limit” its physical presence at the show. Meta and Twitter, meanwhile, said the same day that they’d decided not to attend in person.
On Wednesday, TikTok and AT&T followed, with the social media company announcing that its CES presence will now be a virtual experience and the carrier saying it’s ditching on-site attendance. CES is set to take place during the first week of January, in Las Vegas.
T-Mobile said the “vast majority” of its team wouldn’t be heading to Vegas, though the company will remain as a sponsor. “We are prioritizing the safety of our team and other attendees with this decision,” the carrier said in a statement. “T-Mobile’s entire team looks forward to an in-person CES 2023, which we hope includes an on-stage keynote in front of a live audience.”
TikTok cited the uptick in COVID cases in the US as the Omicron variant spreads. “In light of the increase in positive COVID-19 cases across the country,” it said in a statement, “TikTok has decided to host a virtual TikTok CES experience for our brands and partners.”
AT&T similarly will be dropping its physical presence, citing health concerns. “The health and safety of our employees and customers is a top priority, so we have decided to forgo in-person participation at CES 2022,” an AT&T spokesperson said.
Amazon, Twitter, Meta and Pinterest have also dropped out of attending CES in person, while an Nvidia spokesperson said the company has been “cautious from the start” and is set to deliver a virtual address on Jan. 4 at 8 a.m. PT.
Citing the health and safety of its employees, an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement that “due to the quickly shifting situation and uncertainty around the Omicron variant, we will no longer have an on-site presence at CES.” A spokesperson for Ring, its home security subsidiary, issued an identical statement.
Twitter said in a statement that it holds “the safety and health of our people and our partners as our #1 priority. With that in mind, due to the spike in COVID cases across the country in the past week, we’ve decided to cancel our in-person presence at CES next month.”
Meta said it’ll still participate in the event virtually but that “out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees, we won’t be attending CES in-person due to the evolving public health concerns related to COVID-19.”
The decisions follow the US reaching the grim milestone last week of 800,000 COVID-19 deaths, according to numbers from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. With the emergence of the highly infectious omicron variant — which is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the US — cases are rapidly on the rise again.
The Consumer Technology Association said it feels that with vaccination and masking requirements; availability of COVID-19 tests; and social distancing measures and lower attendance, the event can go on.
Several companies will still be holding press conferences the day before CES starts on Jan. 4, including among the list that aren’t planning to have a physical presence at the show. CNET will be livestreaming these on our main YouTube page and CNET Highlights YouTube page as part of our CES 2022 coverage, and the current schedule for that press day follows:
7 a.m. PT: AMD and TCL
8 a.m. PT: LG and Nvidia
9 a.m. PT: Hisense
10 a.m. PT: Intel
11 a.m. PT: Qualcomm and ROG
12 p.m. PT: John Deere
1 p.m. PT: Canon
2 p.m. PT: Ottonomy
3 p.m. PT: Hyundai
5 p.m. PT: Sony
6:30 p.m. PT: Samsung
CES is scheduled to take place virtually and in person from Jan. 5 to 8, 2022.