Late on Sunday, the GSMA, the organisation which runs #MWC2020, issued some very strict entry procedures for the show, citing safety concerns with the #coronavirus.
I know that the Coronavirus has created disruption, in particular for exhibitors and attendees from around the world, including the 5-6,000 (5-6%) who have historically attended from China. Our sympathy goes to all those affected. We are grateful for the preventative measures our Chinese exhibitors have put in place, notably ZTE and Huawei. Today, the GSMA is moving ahead as planned and will host MWC Barcelona 24-27 February 2020. While the GSMA confirm some large exhibitors have decided not to come to the show this year with others still contemplating next steps, we remain more than 2,800 exhibitors strong.
In addition to all of the health and safety measures put in place, the Spanish health authorities, Host City Partners, other relevant agencies and the GSMA are collaborating. The GSMA is seeking to reassure attendees and exhibitors that their health and safety are our paramount concern, by the following additional measures being put in place:
- All travellers from the Hubai province will not be permitted access to the event (MWC Barcelona, Four Years From Now (4YFN), xside and YoMo)
- All travellers who have been in China will need to demonstrate proof they have been outside of China 14 days prior to the event (passport stamp, health certificate)
- Temperature screening will be implemented
- Attendees will need to self-certify they have not been in contact with anyone infected.
While further planning is underway, we will continue to monitor the situation and will adapt our plans according to developments and advice we receive. We are contending with a constantly evolving situation, that will require fast adaptability.
Measures being implemented include:
- Increased cleaning and disinfection programme across all high-volume touchpoints, e.g. catering areas, surfaces, handrails, WCs, entrances/exits, public touch-screens, etc. along with the use of correct cleaning/sanitising materials and products
- Increased onsite medical support – doubled over last year
- Awareness campaign via online and onsite info-share and signage
- Availability of sanitising and disinfection materials for public use
- Awareness and training to all staff on standard personal preventative measures, e.g. personal hygiene, frequency of use of sanitising/disinfection products, etc.
- Advice to exhibitors on implementing effective cleaning and disinfection of stands, offices along with guidance on personal hygiene measures and common preventive behaviour
- Public health guidelines and advice communication to Barcelona hotels, public and private transport, restaurants and catering outlets, retail, etc.
- Installing new signage onsite reminding attendees of hygiene recommendations
- Implementing a microphone disinfecting and change protocol for all speakers
- Communicating advice to all attendees to adopt a ‘no-handshake policy’
- A 24-hour telephone Security and Medical service for all attendees, operational from 12th to 29th February 2020. This number appears on the back of badge holders, in the event App and on signage around the venue.
We understand that in a press conference on Friday, February 7, 2020 Health Minister Alba Vergés explained that the region of Catalonia is not a public health risk zone. The Health Minister stated “The Catalan health system is prepared to detect and treat coronavirus, to give the most appropriate response, and this must be clear to those attending MWC Barcelona”.
In a similar vein, the Secretary of Public Health, Joan Guix, noted that Catalonia is used to continually welcoming thousands of visitors to the region and reiterated his confidence in the region’s readiness and responsiveness. Guix outlined the measures that the Public Health Agency of Catalonia had put in place and that the Spanish Ministry of Health was in constant communication with all relevant bodies. These include the Directorate General of Tourism and Hotels, both public and private health centres, the Chinese consulate and the GSMA.
Finally, the head of the Service of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology of the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, Antoni Trilla, emphasised that “we are not in an exceptional situation and our health system is ready”.
The GSMA strongly urges exhibitors and attendees to implement appropriate guidelines and protocols as suggested by the WHO and other health authorities to contain and mitigate against any further spread of the virus. The health and safety of our exhibitors, attendees and staff are of paramount importance.
Up-to-date WHO advice can be found here, and the most recent press release issued by WHO is here.
Further updates from the GSMA, answers to the most frequently asked questions and an outline of the measures that have been implemented, are on our website and can be found here.
John Hoffman | CEO | GSMA Ltd.