A rendering of the new booth configuration at the Vision Expo East.

Vision Expo East is the latest large-scale U.S. fashion industry event to be canceled amid growing concerns over the coronavirus. VEE, as the trade show is known within the eyewear industry, was originally scheduled to be held from March 26 to 29 at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Center.

VEE organizers The Vision Council and Reed Exhibitions revealed the cancellation on Friday afternoon. The decision appeared down to the wire — late Thursday, a Vision Council representative maintained that the event would be held as scheduled.

Instead, Vision Expo East will be “consolidated” with its sister event Vision Expo West, which is scheduled for Sept. 23 to 26 in Las Vegas.

“The decision is based on active and close monitoring of ongoing developments related to the COVID-19 virus…Vision Expo’s top priority is to provide a safe environment for everyone involved, while continuing to provide the best customer value to the community,” read a statement announcing the cancellation.

“This was a difficult decision for our organization, but ultimately, the Vision Council’s board of directors believes the safety and well-being of our members, exhibitors, attendees and staff must come first. Furthermore, we want to be respectful to the exhibitors and attendees who would not be able to attend Vision Expo East due to travel restrictions,” said Ashley Mills, chief executive officer of The Vision Council.

Yancy Weinrich, chief operating officer of Reed Exhibitions, added: “Over the past year, our Vision Expo staff and the entire show community worked tirelessly to plan a completely reimagined show that we were looking forward to unveiling in March. This will now take place Sept. 23 to 26 in Las Vegas and we’re excited for the show at that date.”

Vision Expo East is a large-scale event where the world’s top eyewear firms like Luxottica, Marchon, Safilo and Marcolin stage elaborate booths with live DJ’s and espresso bars — all to woo retailers and demonstrate their industrial prowess. The fair sells styles for immediate delivery ahead of the summer season, when sunglasses are in highest demand.

Rather than stage a live event, Vision Expo says it will “work to develop virtual meetings between contracted exhibitors and pre-registered attendees.”

The fair will also “work to create customized services for participants in order to maximize successful outcomes at Vision Expo West.”