According to the organizer, the MWC Barcelona 2021 should take place both on site and online. To this end, the organizers and the exhibition company, in coordination with the Catalan authorities, developed a hygiene concept for the site, which the network operator association GSMA presented on Monday. The precautions taken include regular coronavirus tests for everyone, FFP2 mask compulsory and other rules of conduct, management and control of the visitor mass as well as contact tracking – but no obligation to keep a vaccination certificate.
The plan builds on that Hygiene concept of the trade fair Fira de Barcelona who slowly wants to find its way back to a normalization of the trade fair business with comprehensive measures. This includes new ventilation systems, concepts for crowd control, increased cleaning and disinfection measures as well as continuously contactless, digitized processes for registration, access control and payment in the numerous catering establishments.
The GSMA is also building on experience with the MWC Shanghai held at the end of February. The little Chinese sister of the MWC was able to take place again as a face-to-face exhibition under strict conditions imposed by the authorities. The trade fair in Shanghai had around 25,000 visitors, only about a third of the usual audience. According to a GSMA spokeswoman, 17,000 of them were on site and 8,000 were online. The GSMA had reckoned with around 20,000 visitors on site.
“Without a doubt, Covid-19 is our greatest challenge so far,” said the head of the GSMA trade fair organization, John Hoffman. “But our experience is a solid foundation on which our plan is based.” For the trade fair year 2021, the GSMA is hoping for around half of the otherwise over 100,000 visitors. “As of today, we believe we can have 45,000 to 50,000 attendees,” said GSMA CMO Stephanie Lynch-Habib. For all those who cannot or do not want to be there, there will be a parallel virtual MWC.
The GSMA intends to provide further information in the coming weeks on the question of contact tracking, which is also being discussed in this country. So far, all that has been learned is that contact tracing is carried out with the official MWC app, which all participants must use. The digital access badge should be recorded repeatedly so that possible contacts can be traced in the event of a positive test. In addition, trade fair guests will have to answer a few questions about their health in the app every day.
First cancellation 2020
Last year, the MWC was the first major trade fair in the tech industry that was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic spreading around the world. After some hesitation and tactics, the GSMA pulled the plug at short notice, also because more and more important exhibitors had canceled. In Spain, and especially in the Barcelona region, the cancellation was sharply criticized at the time. Among other things, the GSMA was accused of hastily canceling the fair because the Spanish authorities had not yet seen any reason to declare a health emergency.
A year later they know better. Since then, numerous major events have been canceled or have only taken place virtually. The event industry hopes that some trade fairs and events will be possible again this summer. GSMA had therefore last postponed the MWC Barcelona from the traditional date at the end of February to the end of June. The fair is now to take place from June 28th to July 1st. The GSMA had rejected rumors that the association was already thinking about a further postponement into autumn as “speculative and incorrect”.
But the current plans of the GSMA for a presence fair in June are also subject to the proviso that the situation can change on a daily basis. In addition, other organizers have canceled their summer trade fairs, including Anga Com and E3 in Los Angeles.