The decision comes as current city of Boston and Commonwealth of Massachusetts COVID-19 restrictions would make the in-person component, including lectures and the exhibit hall, unfeasible. 

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) has canceled plans for the in-person component of the 2021 Annual Session, scheduled for Boston, and instead the event will be entirely virtual.

In December, the association had rescheduled the in-person component from April to June. In recent months, the AAO had held off on canceling the in-person portion of the even hoping with additional time the host city of Boston would loosen restrictions. 

According to the AAO, current COVID-19 restrictions in place in the city of Boston and Commonwealth of Massachusetts will not allow an in-person meeting to be structured in a way that makes it feasible for the association. Current guidelines would require attendees to remain in a singular room throughout the 3-day event and room capacity limits allow for no more than 100 people to be in the Exhibit Hall at a given time. 

In a statement, Christopher A. Roberts, DDS,MS, AAO president, said, “Rather than promote a meeting that would fall short of member expectations, the Board of Trustees and the Annual Session Planning Committee have made the prudent decision to refocus our efforts on the virtual component. We believe that we can offer world-class CE, exhibitor access and even the social components of AAO Annual Session in a virtual format, and we hope that our members will join us in record numbers, as was the case in 2020.

“We know that this decision will be a disappointment to many of our members, and we understand your frustration. Rest assured that our top priority throughout this process has been the safety and success of our attendees and their experience at Annual Session. We are in the process of transferring in-person registration to virtual and refunding the excess cost. Please be on the lookout for more updates over the course of the next few weeks – our early registration deadline for Virtual Annual Session is rapidly approaching!”