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Giant European Tech Show Killed by Coronavirus

After a flood of exhibitor and attendee cancellations, Mobile World Congress has canceled its February event.

Mobile World Congress, scheduled for February 24-27 in Barcelona, Spain, has been canceled as a result of fears of coronavirus, now labeled COVID-19. GSM Association, which runs the show, pulled the plug on Wednesday after a week of mounting exhibitor and company cancellations.

“With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has canceled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event,” said GSMA CEO John Hoffman, in a statement. “The Host City Parties respect and understand this decision. The GSMA and the Host City Parties will continue to be working in unison and supporting each other for MWC Barcelona 2021 and future editions. Our sympathies at this time are with those affected in China, and all around the world.”

In a typical year, Mobile World Congress attracts approximately 100,000 attendees.

Mobile World Congress had planned at least 15 measures to ensure the health and safety of attendees. These included new rules, hygiene precautions, and other measures:

New rules:
•Attendees from China’s Hubei province were not permitted
at the event.
•Attendees who had been in China had to prove they had been outside of China for
14 days before the event.
•Attendees had to self-certify they had not been in contact with anyone infected.
•Attendees had to submit to a temperature screening.
Hygiene efforts:
• Advising attendees to adopt a “no-handshake policy”
•Creating a microphone-disinfecting and -change protocol for all speakers
•Cleaning and disinfecting high-volume areas, such as handrails, bathrooms, entrances/exits, public touch-screens, and catering, more frequently
•Designing an awareness campaign online and onsite
•Training staff on personal preventative measures, for example, how frequently they should use sanitizing products
•Adding more sanitizing and disinfection materials for public use
•Providing exhibitors with advice on cleaning and disinfecting booths, personal hygiene
measures, and common preventive behavior
•Communicating public-health guidelines and advice to Barcelona hotels, public and private transport, restaurants, catering outlets, and retail
•Adding new signage onsite reminding attendees of hygiene recommendations
Additional initiatives:
•Doubling on-site medical support compared to 2019
•Adding a 24-hour telephone security and medical service for all attendees. This number appeared on the back of badge holders, in the event app, and on signage around the venue.

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