On Sunday the number of people killed by the new coronavirus rose by 97 taking it to 908 and making it worse than the Sars epidemic back in 2003, so the MWC and its attendees are understandably having to take precautions to protect everyone.
GSMA place restrictions on Chinese attendees
In an email sent Sunday evening, the GSMA set out several
restrictions for attendees, with these affecting people from China the most.
All travellers from the Hubei province will not be permitted
access to the event.
No one is allowed directly from China. If you come from here,
you must have been outside of China 14 days prior to the event with a passport
stamp and health certificate. This would mean any attendee has to leave today. Exhibitors
would therefore already need to have their team outside of China so their booth
can be set up prior to the start in 2-weeks. Also, many companies hold their announcements
on Sunday, which would again exclude anyone still in China.
GSMA reports that 5,000-6,000 visitors typically come from
China which is around 5% of the attendance, I suspect the impact will be greater
as I would bet more then 5% of companies are Chinese.
LG not attending
LG was one of the first companies to pull out of the event,
they are one of the bigger exhibitors at the event and apparently anyone
involved with the set up of the LG booths is flown in, so it would have been
very difficult for them to work out the logistics.
LTE is attending
It was announced that LTE had pulled out shortly after LG. However, they have no confirmed they are attending but have scaled back certain aspects.
Ericson is out
Börje Ekholm, president and CEO of Ericsson, said: “The
health and safety of our employees, customers and other stakeholders are our
highest priority. This is not a decision we have taken lightly.”
Nokia considering it
Barry French, chief marketing officer and executive VP for
marketing and corporate affairs at Finnish company Nokia, carefully avoided
committing the company to staying with MWC. “Not made a decision yet,” he told
Capacity by email this morning shortly after Ericsson announced its plan to
According to the company, “Given public health risks
around the coronavirus, ensuring the safety of our colleagues, partners and
customers is our highest concern…We’ve been looking forward to sharing our
work in AI, 5G and vRAN with the industry. We regret not attending, but believe
this is the right decision.”
Amazon was hoping to promote their AWS platform but have
also joined the growing list of companies not attending stating:
“Due to the outbreak and continued concerns about the new
coronavirus, Amazon will withdraw from exhibiting and participating in Mobile
World Congress 2020”
Measure taken to protect attendees
By all accounts, MWC is still going ahead, and if you are
attending you should take extra precautions to make sure that you are safe.
MWC is also rolling out the following to reduce the risk of transmission:
- 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.
I will update this post as and when new announcements are made. You can also keep track of the official GSMA announcements here.