Amazon has canceled re: MARS 2020, an annual AI event that focuses on machine learning, automation, robotics, and space, because of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. The event was scheduled to take place in Las Vegas from June 16-19, 2020.
The event organizers said in a statement on their website that the event will be canceled and guests who bought tickets will receive a full refund. Here is the statement:
Thank you for your interest in re: MARS 2020. Our top priority is the well-being of our employees, customers, partners and event participants. We closely monitored the situation with COVID-19 and decided after a long time to cancel re: MARS 2020. All guests who have purchased tickets will receive a full refund of registration fees. Hotel rooms booked through our conference website will be canceled free of charge. In the coming weeks we will explore other ways to get the community involved.
Amazon launched re: MARS in 2019 and last year presented founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Landing AI, Andrew Ng, actor and producer Robert Downey Jr., MIT Media Lab researcher Dr. Kate Darling and the founder of Boston Dynamics, Marc Raibert, and including Aicha Evans, CEO of Zoox.
COVID-19, a disease caused by a new virus that belongs to the coronavirus family and is closely related to the SARS and MERS viruses. COVID-19 has caused governments and corporations to cancel tech, business and automotive events around the world, including the NCAA March Madness basketball tournaments, professional sports games in the NBA and NHL, the Geneva Motor Show, MWC in Barcelona, and the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas. Disneyland and California Adventure will close at the end of the month. On Friday, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency, a term that allows the government to free up more federal resources that states can access if they respond to an outbreak.
In response to the COVID 19 outbreak, Amazon released guidelines on Thursday recommending global employees who can work from home do so by the end of March.
"We continue to work closely with public and private medical experts to ensure that we take the right precautions as the situation develops," an Amazon spokesman said in an email statement. "For this reason, we now recommend that all employees worldwide who can work from home do so by the end of March."
Earlier this week, Amazon announced that full-time and part-time workers diagnosed or quarantined with COVID-19 would receive two weeks of additional paid free time. The company said it will continue to pay all hourly employees, including food service, janitorial, and security personnel who support its offices around the world.