MWC Barcelona Conference Planning for 50,000 Attendees, Reveals Health and Safety Plan

The Mobile World Congress is planning an event with tens of thousands of international visitors to congregate for its flagship event in Barcelona in June, more than a year after it was canceled due to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a press release, the GSMA trade body stated that everyone present will be required to show a negative COVID-19 test result in order to access the venue in Barcelona, and will have to repeat the test every 72 hours. Rapid testing centers will be made available on site and organizers are considering using hotels for more.

“We believe that we can have around 45,000 to 50,000 attendees, as of today,” Stephanie Lynch-Habib, the GSMA’s chief marketing officer, said in an interview on Monday, adding that visitor interest is expected to be strong.

“The technology that we will use through a digital badge means we’ll be able to detect if someone is standing in an area for more than 15 minutes, to enable eventual contact tracing,” she explained.

Lynch-Habib says that MWC has developed a plan for the event “in coordination with, and approved by, the Catalan health authorities.” The plan involves attendees having to download an app that is both a contact-tracing beacon, and a digital admission badge.

“[Data will be sent to health authorities] if needed to mitigate potential further exposure,” she continued. “That’s something that all attendees will have to agree to before entering.”

The plan, known as Committed Community, will also feature a new fresh air injection and external ventilation system at the host venue, Fira Barcelona, to improve airflow, while a new monitoring system will be used to look at the active capacity and density of crowds.

Those who apply to attend the event will be asked to commit not only to complying with the testing protocols but completing a daily health questionnaire on the convention’s app, wearing a suitable face covering and adhering to social distancing requirements.