Chicago Auto Show will return to McCormick Place this summer, say officials

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Chicago Auto Show
(Graphic from ChicagoAutoShow.com)
Information provided by the Governor’s Office

CHICAGO, Ill. (May 9, 2021) – Governor JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined elected officials, tourism backers, and labor leaders last week to announce the return of the annual Chicago Auto Show.

The Auto Show will be held at McCormick Place from July 15 to 19 and will incorporate several innovative safety features — including being held indoors and outdoors for the first time since it was held in Chicago in 1901. It is the nation’s largest and longest-running auto show.

“With strong public health protocols in place, the Chicago Auto Show will be the first large convention to take place in Illinois since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, setting the stage for the safe return of big events in the months to come,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “The lifesaving power of vaccinations and the hard work by the people of our city and state has led us here. In recent weeks, we have seen our statewide COVID case rates and hospitalizations flatten and begin to fall, demonstrating a surge far short of the one we saw over the fall and winter. To be clear, our fight against the virus isn’t over yet — but things are getting better.”

Safety measures

McCormick Place and the Chicago Auto Show have worked closely with health and tourism officials to detail mitigation strategies to ensure the safety of every attendee, starting with a lower overall capacity for attendees. Among the safety measures in place:

  • a move to Hall F in West Building with 470,000 square feet of indoor space and 100,000 square feet of outdoor space
  • timed entrance windows and staggered entry to prevent congestion on the show floor and at arrival
  • requirement to wear face masks at all times
  • sanitization stations throughout the event
  • contactless delivery for tickets
  • temperatures will be scanned, and a medical questionnaire must be filled out before entry is allowed into the event

“Around this time last year, McCormick Place was turned an alternate care facility that significantly aided our city during the first wave of COVID-19 — making today’s announcement all the more special,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot last week. “In the same spirit of collaboration between government, healthcare, community, and corporate partners, we are now able to bring conventions back to our beloved convention center in a way that is safe and reflective of our progress in slowing and stopping the spread of this virus. I look forward to seeing the McCormick Place reopen its doors for the Chicago Auto Show this July and further enhance our city’s ongoing Open Chicago initiative.”

Less restrictions as IL moves in the right direction

As the State of Illinois prepares to move into the less restrictive “Bridge Phase,” this announcement is also part of the broader “Open Chicago” initiative to safely and fully reopen the city.

Given the continuous downward trend of the COVID-19 numbers, the state of Illinois and City of Chicago have aligned on guidance for conventions returning later this summer. This news follows last week’s announcement of Expanded Phase 4 regulations and the City’s Bridge to Phase 5 of reopening. Chicago has made significant progress in reversing the rise in COVID-19 metrics that started in March and caused the City to pause the reopening plan. Since last week’s announcement, COVID-19 test positivity rate has continued to drop and is now under 5%.

“The trends are encouraging, but we must be cautious as we move forward,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.  “As more venues reopen, it is critical that we increase the number of people who are vaccinated.  Immunity is how we stop transmission of this virus, but we need greater community immunity and that requires as many of us as possible getting vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, McCormick Place has been worked closely with public health officials and followed all guidance regarding meetings and events. In 2020, the entire McCormick Place campus was awarded GBAC STAR accreditation, the gold standard for health and safety in the industry. In January 2021, Choose Chicago and McCormick Place launched Healthy Meetings Chicago, a virtual experience illustrating the new convention experience.

Based on the trajectory of public health metrics, officials are confident that the Auto Show and other conventions can be safely held this summer in line with best practices. However, if conditions change significantly in an unforeseen way, these plans will need to be adjusted, including the announced guidelines.

If CDPH or IDPH determines that case rates or hospitalization rates are too high to allow for the events outlined above, the guidelines will be modified.

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