Coronavirus has already had an impact on MWC, with a number of exhibitors either cancelling their company’s attendance entirely, or significantly reducing who they’ll be sending. Airlines have been doing their part to disrupt, cancelling a number of flights which would prevent further attendees from physically being able to get to Barcleona.
In an update this morning, GSMA has confirmed that it anticipates as many as 5000 to 6000 fewer attendees from mainland China alone, as well as from those exhibitors who have cancelled their MWC plans entirely.
GSMA has moved to assure attendees – media included – that adequate precautions have been taken to keep everyone safe. In particular:
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 EVENTS INCLUDING MWC BARCELONA ITSELF, AND SIDE-SHOWS INCLUDING 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.
Additionally, GSMA is implementing a range of further measures, many of which seem eminently sensible to minimise the risk of large-scale virus transmission at the internationally-attended conference.
The authorities in Barcelona – and Catalonia more broadly – are keen to emphasise that the region remains open for business, and safe for international attendees.
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,” said Vergés.
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.
We trust that the show will indeed go on, but more importantly, we hope that the growing health crisis is soon and swiftly brought under control.