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Though exhibitors cancel, MWC Barcelona to continue — with health measures

Logo: Mobile World Congress 2020

Mobile World Congress (MWC) Barcelona will still take place Feb. 24-27, despite exhibitors dropping out because of the coronavirus. According to a statement by GSMA, some large exhibitors have decided not to come to the show this year because of the coronavirus, while others are still contemplating next steps. Despite this, the show is expected to boast more than 2,800 exhibitors.

According to Reuters, as of Feb. 9, there are two confirmed cases of coronavirus in Spain.

GSMA and its partners have implemented several safety measures for attendees, the organization said, including:

  • Increased cleaning and disinfection across all high-volume touch points, such as catering areas, surfaces, handrails, restrooms, entrances/exits and public touchscreens, along with the use of correct cleaning/sanitizing materials and products
  • Increased onsite medical support
  • Awareness campaign via online and onsite info-share and signage
  • Availability of sanitizing and disinfection materials for public use
  • Awareness and training to all staff on standard personal preventative measures, such as personal hygiene, frequent use of sanitizing/disinfection products, etc.
  • Advice to exhibitors on implementing effective cleaning and disinfection of stands and offices, along with guidance on personal hygiene measures and common preventive behavior
  • Public health guidelines and communication with 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, available Feb. 12 to Feb. 29. This number will appear on the back of badge holders, in the event app and on signage around the venue.

Companies Back Out

Because of the coronavirus, several companies have backed out of attending MWC Barcelona. Several of these companies include Sony, Ericsson, LG, Nvidia and Amazon.

“Due to the outbreak and continued concerns about novel coronavirus, Amazon will withdraw from exhibiting and participating in Mobile World Congress 2020,” Amazon said in a statement. According to CNN Business, the company was due to host a dozen sessions covering topics such as 5G connectivity and artificial intelligence.

Other companies have expressed similar concerns.

“Sony has been closely monitoring the evolving situation following the novel coronavirus outbreak, which was declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization on January 30,” the company said in a statement. “As we place the utmost importance on the safety and wellbeing of our customers, partners, media and employees, we have taken the difficult decision to withdraw from exhibiting and participating at MWC 2020 in Barcelona, Spain.”

As an alternative, Sony’s press release will take place on Feb. 24 via a video through its official Xperia YouTube channel.

“We’ve informed GSMA, the organizers of MWC Barcelona, that we won’t be sending our employees to this year’s event,” Nvidia said in a statement. “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.”

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