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Mobile World Congress 2019 edition in Barcelona

Coronavirus Now Affecting Business Events Worldwide

Late February’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, has lost some of its biggest exhibitors. But show management is making 15 policy, training, and hygiene changes to safeguard the 100,000-person show.

It’s no surprise that shows in the Asia-Pacific region are seeing far less attendee and exhibitor participation or are simply being canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak. Now, however, international shows taking place on other continents are seeing big players pull out to protect their employees from infection.

Mobile World Congress, the biggest telecom-industry show that attracted more than 100,000 attendees and 2,500 exhibitors last year, has seen at least six large exhibitors cancel their participation in the February 24-27 event at Fira Gran Via in Barcelona: Amazon, Ericsson, LG Electronics, Nvidia, NTT Docomo, and Sony. In fact, Sony was scheduled to host a product launch at the show but says now that the launch will be held in Japan and broadcast at the show via video.

Coronavirus: What Can Organizers Do?
Mobile World Congress attracts a global audience; six percent of the attendees at the 2019 event were Chinese. In late January, show management implemented more than a dozen actions
designed to decrease the risk of infection among participants:

• Attendees from China’s Hubei province are not permitted at the event.

• Attendees who had been in China have to prove they have been outside of China 14 days before the event.

• Attendees must self-certify they have not been in contact with anyone infected.

• There will be increased cleaning and disinfection in high-volume areas, such as handrails, bathrooms, entrances/exits, public touch screens, and catering.

• GSMA will conduct temperature screening of attendees

• On-site medical support has been doubled versus last year

• GSMA implemented an awareness campaign online and on site 

• It will make sanitizing and disinfection materials available for public use

• GSMA trained its staff on personal preventative measures; for example, how frequently they should use sanitizing products

• It will provide exhibitors with advice on effective cleaning and disinfection of booths and guidance on personal hygiene measures and common preventive behavior

• GSMA communicated public health guidelines and advice to Barcelona hotels, public and private transport, restaurants, catering outlets, and retail

• It will add new signage on site reminding attendees of hygiene recommendations

• GSMA implemented a microphone-disinfecting and -change protocol for all speakers

• It advises attendees to adopt a “no-handshake policy”

• GSMA implemented a 24-hour telephone security and medical service for all attendees. This number appears on the back of badge holders, in the event app, and on signage around the venue.

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