Geneva auto show cancelled as coronavirus outbreak spreads in Europe

The Geneva auto show was cancelled after the Swiss government put an immediate ban Friday on all public and private events involving more than 1,000 people in order to halt the spread of the new coronavirus.

The ban on big events will last until at least March 15, one of the latest major steps by governments to fight an outbreak that has infected more than 82,000 people and killed over 2,700 worldwide. The Swiss move highlights the growing impact of the virus on daily lives and livelihoods. Organizers of the annual Geneva International Motor Show, which was due to run March 5-15 and draws tens of thousands of visitors every year, confirmed the event would be nixed.

“We are aware that this measure will have a significant impact on public life,” said Switzerland’s interior minister, Alain Berset.

“However, the move is expected to provide effective protection to people in Switzerland and to public health,” he said. “It should prevent or delay the spread of the disease in Switzerland, thus reducing its momentum.”

Maurice Turrettini, chairman of the Geneva auto show’s organizing company, GIMS, said that over 160 brands had been due to exhibit at the show, but it was a case of “force majeure,” a disruption that is out of people’s control that can free businesses from liability in a contract.

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