On Sunday the number of people killed by the new coronavirus rose by 97 taking it to 908 and making it worse than the Sars epidemic back in 2003, so the MWC and its attendees are understandably having to take precautions to protect everyone.

GSMA place restrictions on Chinese attendees

In an email sent Sunday evening, the GSMA set out several restrictions for attendees, with these affecting people from China the most.

All travellers from the Hubei province will not be permitted access to the event.

No one is allowed directly from China. If you come from here, you must have been outside of China 14 days prior to the event with a passport stamp and health certificate. This would mean any attendee has to leave today. Exhibitors would therefore already need to have their team outside of China so their booth can be set up prior to the start in 2-weeks. Also, many companies hold their announcements on Sunday, which would again exclude anyone still in China.  

GSMA reports that 5,000-6,000 visitors typically come from China which is around 5% of the attendance, I suspect the impact will be greater as I would bet more then 5% of companies are Chinese.

LG not attending

LG was one of the first companies to pull out of the event, they are one of the bigger exhibitors at the event and apparently anyone involved with the set up of the LG booths is flown in, so it would have been very difficult for them to work out the logistics.

LTE is attending

It was announced that LTE had pulled out shortly after LG. However, they have no confirmed they are attending but have scaled back certain aspects.

Ericson is out

Börje Ekholm, president and CEO of Ericsson, said: “The health and safety of our employees, customers and other stakeholders are our highest priority. This is not a decision we have taken lightly.”

Nokia considering it

Barry French, chief marketing officer and executive VP for marketing and corporate affairs at Finnish company Nokia, carefully avoided committing the company to staying with MWC. “Not made a decision yet,” he told Capacity by email this morning shortly after Ericsson announced its plan to withdraw.

Nvidia Out

According to the company, “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.”

Amazon Out

Amazon was hoping to promote their AWS platform but have also joined the growing list of companies not attending stating:

“Due to the outbreak and continued concerns about the new coronavirus, Amazon will withdraw from exhibiting and participating in Mobile World Congress 2020”

Measure taken to protect attendees

By all accounts, MWC is still going ahead, and if you are attending you should take extra precautions to make sure that you are safe.

MWC is also rolling out the following to reduce the risk of transmission:

  • Increased cleaning and disinfection programme across all high-volume touchpoints, e.g. catering areas, surfaces, handrails, WCs, entrances/exits, public touch-screens, etc. along with the use of correct cleaning/sanitising materials and products
  • Increased onsite medical support – doubled over last year
  • Awareness campaign via online and onsite info-share and signage
  • Availability of sanitising and disinfection materials for public use
  • Awareness and training to all staff on standard personal preventative measures, e.g. personal hygiene, frequency of use of sanitising/disinfection products, etc.
  • Advice to exhibitors on implementing effective cleaning and disinfection of stands, offices along with guidance on personal hygiene measures and common preventive behaviour
  • Public health guidelines and advice communication to 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, operational from 12th to 29th February 2020. This number appears on the back of badge holders, in the event App and on signage around the venue.

I will update this post as and when new announcements are made. You can also keep track of the official GSMA announcements here.

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