MWC bans attendees from Hubei as Ericsson and Nvidia join exhibitor exodus

Mobile World Congress will implement temperature screening and demand proof that those who have visited China have been out of the Middle Kingdom for at least 14 days.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

As the number of exhibitors choosing not to attend Mobile World Congress (MWC) over coronavirus fears mount, the GSMA is stepping up measures to "reassure attendees and exhibitors".

Attendees and exhibitors from China's Hubei province -- the home of the first reported outbreak of novel coronavirus -- will not be able to enter MWC Barcelona, as well as Four Years From Now, xside, and YoMo events, GSMA said on Sunday evening.

Any person who has recently visited China will need to show they have been outside the country for at least 14 days with a passport stamp and health certificate.

GSMA added that they will undertake temperature screening, and attendees will need to self-certify they have not been in contact will an infected person.

"While further planning is underway, we will continue to monitor the situation and will adapt our plans according to developments and advice we receive," GSMA said.

"We are contending with a constantly evolving situation, that will require fast adaptability."

See also: How to track the coronavirus: Dashboard delivers real-time view of the deadly virus

GSMA said it has doubled the onsite medical support team, and will have a "cleaning and disinfection programme across all high-volume touchpoints" such as railings, touch screens, and eating and sanitisation areas.

The event is set to have a no-handshake policy for attendees, will disinfect microphones, and have a 24-hour security and medical telephone line operating during the event.

On Friday, both Nvidia and Ericsson pulled out from the event.

"Given public health risks around the coronavirus, ensuring the safety of our colleagues, partners, and customers is our highest concern," Nvidia said.

"We regret not attending, but believe this is the right decision."

Ericsson said it was pulling out after an "extensive internal risk assessment", and while GSMA had done everything they could, the company could not guarantee the safety of its employees and visitors.

"This is not a decision we have taken lightly," Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm said.

"It is very unfortunate, but we strongly believe the most responsible business decision is to withdraw our participation from this year's event."

Korean electronics giant LG has also retreated from attending MWC this year, and also pulled out of the Integrated Systems Europe event in Amsterdam.

"With the WHO recommending that individuals 'promote social distancing', LG management believes that the most responsible decision is to avoid participating in large public events until the situation stabilises," the company said.

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