Swiss authorities have thrown the world’s automotive industry into chaos on the eve of the Geneva Motor Show, as a new ruling designed to curb the spread of coronavirus makes the large-scale event impossible.
Large public gatherings have been banned by the Swiss government as it attempts to get ahead of a potential COVID-19 pandemic.
“In view of the current situation and the spread of the coronavirus, the Federal Council has categorised the situation in Switzerland as ‘special’ in terms of the Epidemics Act,” the Swiss cabinet said in a statement.
“Large-scale events involving more than 1000 people are to be banned. The ban comes into immediate effect and will apply at least until 15 March.”
The 2020 Geneva Motor Show was scheduled to take place March 5-15. Wheels understands that at least three manufacturers cancelled press trips to the Geneva Motor Show for Australian media this week as coronavirus fears grew.
Industry sources have confirmed that car companies attending the show have been informed of the show's cancellation.
As recently as yesterday, the organisers for the Geneva Motor Show remained confident that one of the largest events in the global automotive industry calendar would go ahead.
A number of key new products were expected to be revealed at the Swiss show, including Porsche’s 992-generation 911 Turbo, the all-new Audi A3, and Hyundai's i20 production car and Prophecy concept.
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The organisers of the Geneva Motor Show have not yet officially confirmed the event has been cancelled.
However, with large crowds of world media and automotive enthusiasts expected to attend the show halls across its 10-day run, the show would fall foul of the Swiss governments new ruling.
Nearby Northern Italy is currently battling an outbreak of coronavirus cases as the virus spreads across Europe.
Locally, the Australian Prime Minister announced he was triggering a pandemic response plan yesterday, in preparation for a potential pandemic declaration from the World Health Organisation.
The Australian Grand Prix is still planned to go ahead as scheduled on March 15, but health officials have warned that an event cancellation remains possible.
We will update this story as more information becomes available.