GSMA has announced that Mobile World Congress (MWC21) Barcelona is still happening this year from 28th June to 1st July 2021. To ensure a safe environment, they have shared details of its health and safety plan for the world’s largest annual connectivity event.
The event venue, Fira de Barcelona was awarded the World Travel Tourism Council “Safe Travels” stamp for its COVID-19 safety measures. The measures were designed in collaboration with specialist risk management consultancy Aon and with the advice of the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona.
GSMA admits that COVID-19 is their biggest challenge to date but it claims to have a strong foundation which will enable MWC21 Barcelona to go ahead safely, in person along with a digital online component for those who are unable to attend.
For those attending MWC21, there’s a multi-layered plan which include a regular monitoring and testing process. Participants are required to download the My MWC app and activate a digital badge once registration, self-declaration and testing is completed.
All participants are required to show a negative COVID-19 test result before being allowed to board planes and travel to Barcelona. This will be a requirement by the Spanish authorities. For those travelling by train or car, participants will be directed to the relevant MWC testing centres to validate their health status.
Before you can access the venue, participants must also produce a valid negative rapid test result. In addition, the COVID-19 test must be repeated every 72 hours and participants will be notified via the My MWC app when their current test result expires. Participants are also required to complete a daily health questionnaire in the app and make regular use of the 1,300 disinfectant dispensers throughout the venue. Wearing of face masks and social distancing measures are required throughout the event.
There will be multiple testing centres available to support rapid testing and it will be performed by qualified personnel working alongside the Catalan Health authorities. As usual, temperature checks will also be conducted at all access points.
At the venue, there will be double the number of entrances and exits to allow social distancing and one-way traffic flow. MWC21 will offer a touchless environment with ‘badgeless’ entry. All formerly manual interactions will be digitalised for a contactless experience.
The common areas will be sanitised regularly while restaurants have been redesigned to ensure social distancing, food preparation and offering adhere to enhanced standards. A new fresh-air injection and external ventilation system has been introduced to improve airflow.
There will be onsite medical facilities with COVID-19 protocols which include isolation rooms to facilitate assessments. The organiser will also increase the number of personnel onsite to conduct assessments and administer PCR or rapid tests. If required, the contact tracing data will be shared with health authorities to mitigate potential exposure.
Last year’s MWC Barcelona event was cancelled after several key exhibitors have pulled out due to the pandemic. Originally scheduled around February to March each year, GSMA has postponed the main MWC 2021 event in Barcelona by a couple of months while MWC Shanghai was held earlier last month between 23rd to 25th February 2021.
Although COVID-19 vaccinations have begun in several countries, it appears that GSMA is not making proof of vaccination as a requirement for entry just yet. At the moment, international travel is still not permitted by the Malaysian government. All returning travellers that have not received two doses of the vaccine are still required to undergo mandatory quarantine.
Spain is one of the hardest hit countries by the pandemic. It has recorded over 3 million cases and more than 71,000 deaths. At the moment, the country is currently recovering from its 3rd wave of infections and it has been recording less than 10,000 cases daily in the past few weeks.
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