GSMA Presents Health Plan for MWC21; Ericsson Withdraws from Show
The GSMA has shared details of its health and safety plan for MWC21 Barcelona. The plan was developed in coordination with and approved by the Catalan health authorities responsible for the regulations governing MWC21, including the Department of Business and Knowledge of the Generalitat de Catalunya and the Technical Committee of the Procicat.
According to the Sectorial Plan of Fairs and Congresses, it satisfies the directives and recommendations for event organisers. The health and safety plan, Committed Community, will impact everyone involved with the event. It takes a layered approach designed to create a safe environment for staff, workers, exhibitors, visitors, suppliers, partners, and the local community.
Layers include frequent testing, contact tracing, touchless environments, re-vamped catering, occupancy monitoring, upgrades to facility infrastructure, increased medical staff and personal commitments like adhering to social distancing. The plan builds on the Protocol on Safety and Prevention against COVID-19 currently being implemented by Fira de Barcelona.
“We’ve worked with partners, health authorities and medical professionals to create a plan that builds confidence in our return to in-person events. The GSMA has safely and successfully organised premier mobile events for many years. Since 2006, we have worked closely with the Host City Parties and Fira Barcelona to keep everyone safe and secure at MWC events. 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,” said John Hoffman, CEO of GSMA.
Check In To Get In is the first step in the multi-layered plan. Participants will download My MWC app. It is a digital badge that will activate and allow for entrance to the event once registration, self-declaration and testing is completed. Registration for MWC21 will open in the coming weeks. Before leaving home, travellers from some destinations will be required to show a negative Covid-19 test before being allowed to board planes and travel to Catalonia. The Spanish Authorities will dictate this requirement.
Participants arriving by train or car will be directed to MWC relevant testing centres to validate their health status. All participants will be required to produce a valid negative rapid test to access the Venue. The test must be repeated every 72 hours, with participants notified through the My MWC app of upcoming expiration. Multiple testing centres will be available to support rapid testing and all tests will be performed by qualified personnel working alongside the Catalan Health Authorities. Whilst in the Venue, temperature checks will also be conducted at all access points.
Entrances and exits to the venue have doubled to ensure social distancing and support one-way traffic flow. A ‘touchless’ environment, with ‘badgeless’ entry and other formerly manual interactions digitised. Fira Gran Via restaurants have been re-designed to ensure social distancing, food preparation, and offering adheres to enhanced standards, including contactless payment. Fira Gran Via has increased sanitisation protocols throughout the Venue and features a new fresh-air injection and external ventilation system to improve airflow, exceeding the highest standard of AD1.
Ericsson announced it would not be participating in this year’s edition of MWC, citing continuing impacts from COVID-19. “The decision, whilst regrettable, reflects our precautionary approach to managing the pandemic from a people and travel perspective whilst vaccination programmes are rolled out globally. We look forward to the opportunity to rejoin future events and continue to work closely with the GSMA and industry partners,” the Swedish network vendor said in a statement. The GSMA expressed respect for a decision by Ericsson not to participate on-site at MWC Barcelona, pointing to the development of its virtual platform to support those unable to attend.