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MWC 2020 hangs in the balance as MNOs weigh up Coronavirus risk

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Despite GSMA assurances that the ‘show must go on’, MWC 2020’s opening hangs in the balance as leading MNOs discuss amongst themselves whether to pull out of the event or not because of the Coronavirus.

Already leading exhibitors including Amazon and Facebook have bailed out, along with BT, Nokia, Amdocs, Nvidia – one of the main sponsors – LG, Sony, Ericsson and Bouygues Telecom.

SEE THE FULL LIST OF WHO’S OUT HERE

Now it is being reported that Telefonica, Vodafone, Orange and BT – and perhaps DT – are all in discussion with each other this week as to whether to attend or not. The GSMA is now reported to be poised to make a decision one way or the other at a board meeting taking place today, Wednesday 12 February.

For its part, the GSMA says that it is working closely with the mayor of Barcelona and the regional government to make the event safe from Coronavirus . In a statement issued on Sunday 9 February, it said that “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”.

The GSMA says it has the following measures in place across the region:

  • All travellers from the Hubai province will not be permitted access to the event
  • 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, the GSMA says that it 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”.

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”. He believes that as a tourist hot-spot Barcelona is already more than prepared for handling infectious diseases such as Coronavirus.

Already the regional government and the GSMA have put these measures in place:

  • 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.

Stay tuned and we will keep you posted about the impact of Coronavirus on MWC2020. Does MWC now mean Mobile With Coronavirus? Mainly Without Companies? You decide… more as we get it

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