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MWC tech show agrees deal with Spanish government to allow in-person attendance

Martyn Landi, PA Technology Correspondent
·2-min read

The organisers of a technology trade show in Barcelona have reached an agreement with the Spanish government to allow registered attendees to enter the country for the event.

The GSMA, which organises the annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) event in the city, said people attending the convention had now been added to a list of authorised entrants into Spain.

MWC was cancelled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and had been moved from its traditional February date to the end of June this year in an effort to allow the event to take place, something organisers insisted would happen – with in-person attendance – last month.

The GSMA said the new system will see it share details of those who register to attend the event with Spanish authorities in order to facilitate their entry into the country.

MWC normally attracts a crowd of more than 100,000 from countries around the world.

However, entrance into Spain is heavily restricted, particularly for any national from a country outside the EU, with exceptions applying only to specific groups of people – but which will now include conference attendees.

“The health and safety of everyone involved in MWC Barcelona, both in Spain and beyond, continues to be our utmost priority as we navigate rapidly shifting circumstances,” GSMA chief executive John Hoffman said.

“This decision is a resounding vote of confidence in the careful planning undertaken to date, and our strong partnership with the host city parties.

“We will continue to work closely with our partners to deliver a safe and enjoyable experience.”

Last month, MWC organisers unveiled an enhanced safety plan it said would allow the event to take place with reduced in-person attendance, including providing a negative Covid test prior to travel and using rapid test centres on-site, submitting to temperature checks when entering the venue and using a new “touchless” system involving digital badges loaded on to smartphones.

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.

The plan also included requiring attendees to complete a health questionnaire in the event’s official app every day, wearing a face covering and following social distancing rules.

MWC is currently the only major technology event looking to go ahead with in-person gatherings in 2021 – gaming show E3 confirmed this week it will take place virtually in June, as will Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) for a second year.