GSM Association, the organizing body for the world’s biggest tech trade show – the Mobile World Congress (MWC) – is planning to go ahead with an in-person Mobile World Congress (MWC 2021) event in Barcelona this year. Stylized as MWC21, the GSMA has proposed a long list of protocols and measures to go ahead with organizing the event at the Fira Gran Via in Barcelona. As per the official press release, the health and safety plans – called Committed community – have been approved by the local health authorities, and will cover everyone from staff and visitors to exhibitors and locals.
The safety protocols put in place for organizing an in-person MWC21 event in Barcelona include mandatory negative COVID-19 tests with frequent testing rules, contact tracing via an app created specifically for the event, improved air conditioning system across the show floor, touch-less environment for exhibiting products, strict occupancy monitoring, on-site medical service availability, mandatory temperature checks, and of course, adherence to social distancing norms.
“No doubt, Covid-19 is our biggest challenge to date. But our experience gives us a rock-solid foundation from which we have built our plan. This foundation means MWC21 Barcelona can go ahead safely, in person, with a digital online component for those unable to attend. It will remain the unique, unmissable experience that has made it the world’s most important mobile event,” CEO of GSMA, John Hoffman said regarding the MWC21 plans.
Starting with the testing protocols, attendees from certain regions will be required to produce a negative COVID-19 test report before they can board the plane for MWC21. Additionally, all participants will have to furnish a valid negative rapid test before they can access the venue, and this test must be taken again after every 72-hour span. There will be multiple testing centers spread across the venue and even hotels. Additionally, information regarding safety protocols as well as the mandatory health questionnaire will be dispersed via the My MWC app.
Listed below are the venue-specific measures that have been put in place for MWC21:
1. Entrances and exits have doubled to ensure social distancing and support one-way traffic flow through the Venue
2. A ‘touchless’ environment, with ‘badgeless’ entry and other formerly manual interactions digitised
3. Fira Gran Via restaurants have been re-designed to ensure social distancing, food preparation, and offering adheres to enhanced standards, including contactless payment
4. Fira Gran Via has increased sanitisation protocols throughout the Venue
5. Features a new fresh-air injection and external ventilation system to improve airflow, exceeding the highest standard of AD1
6. Upgraded infrastructure including new monitoring systems will support our active capacity and density management, ensuring social distancing guidelines are adhered to along with one-way flows
1. The onsite medical facilities have been adapted to incorporate Covid-19 protocols, including the addition of isolation rooms to facilitate assessments
2. Increased medical personnel onsite to conduct assessments, administer PCR or rapid tests and to coordinate where necessary with Catalan health authorities
3. The relevant contact tracing data will be shared with health authorities if needed to mitigate potential exposure further
GSMA’s Chief Marketing Officer has said in an interview (via Bloomberg) that MWC21 can host between 45,000 and 50,000, which is less than half the number of visitors compared to the event’s 2019 edition. The organizers are moving forward with MWC21 plans in Barcelona after the success of MWC Shanghai last month which didn’t record any confirmed COVID-19 cases. MWC21 Barcelona kicks off on June 28 and will go through July 1.