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International Housewares Association Cancels Trade Show At McCormick Place Due To Coronavirus Worries

CHICAGO (CBS) -- In what amounts to a $77 million dollar hit to the city, the massive home and housewares trade show that comes to Chicago every year has just pulled out because of the coronavirus.

As CBS 2's Tara Molina reported, the show was set to open in less than two weeks, and thousands of people were expected from all over the world.

The Inspired Home Show 2020, formerly known as the International Home + Housewares Show, had been scheduled for March 14-17.

It was expected to bring 2,200 exhibitors and more than 52,000 people to Chicago. International Housewares Association spokeswoman Debbie Teschke said attendees come from 130 countries.

Now those more than 52,000 people will not be staying, playing and eating in Chicago for a week this month.

"For the last several weeks, we have been watching this situation very carefully, with our primary concern being the safety and well-being of the home + housewares industry," International Housewares Association President Derek Miller said in a news release. "The IHA Board of Directors made this decision after consulting with industry constituents including exhibitors and retailers. In the end, the global nature of our event, combined with the worldwide concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak and ongoing travel restrictions make it impossible for us to hold The Inspired Home Show next week."

The trade group will determine the financial impact of not holding the convention, will figure out after that whether it will give refunds to exhibitors.

The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority said this the housewares show has been the only convention at McCormick Place so far that was canceled due to fears about the coronavirus.

McCormick Place has already held other events during the outbreak, including events connected with the NBA All-Star Game earlier in February, and the C2E2 comics and entertainment exposition, which drew an estimated 90,000 people this past weekend.

Meetings and conventions have been canceled or postponed in other cities – including Orlando, Houston, San Francisco, Denver, and Salt Lake City – in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the MPEA said.

The American College of Cardiology is planning its annual scientific session and exposition at McCormick Place from March 28 to March 30. Given the daily change in the situation with coronavirus, the MPEA said it is too soon to determine what will happen with that event.

The Inspired Home Show 2021 will be held at McCormick Place next year.

The decision to cancel the show this year came following announcements about Chinese exhibitors no longer participating, and new sanitizing stations and cleaning methods at McCormick Place.

The massive cancellation was announced ahead of the City of Chicago's tabletop meeting scheduled for Tuesday, where city departments are expected to go over pandemic preparation plans.

The state has announced its plans already.

Earlier Monday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker detailed what that tabletop meeting could look like while talking about the virus earlier Monday.

"It's an exercise that really does help prepare all of the agencies, not just (Illinois Department of Public Health), but also our emergency management agencies, obviously state police and others who are engaged in the broader homeland security issues," Pritzker said.

The city's meeting will be closed, and city officials won't tell us where or when it's happening. But we are expecting information to be released afterwards.

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