We don’t yet know what the tourist season will look like, but judging by the regulations imposed on participants at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, there will be a lot of testing…
The first Spanish event to be cancelled due to a global pandemic was the famed Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (MWC), which was put on hold last year despite many protests from participants who were unable to see the brewing health storm at the time. The good news is that the Congress will go ahead this year, but the Spanish government has imposed numerous conditions.
The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is scheduled to take place from 28 June to 1 July, and the organiser has reached an agreement with the Spanish authorities to lift the entry restrictions imposed on people entering from outside the European Union, who make up a large portion of the event’s attendees.
The current entry ban for visitors from outside the EU region has been lifted, and the Spanish Ministry of Interior has decided to allow presenters, participants, sponsors, and partners to enter the country to attend the event. The registration process has been adjusted to meet all of the new arrangements and conditions set by the authorities: participants must register online, but if they are entering Spain from a country on the high-risk COVID-19 list, which currently includes Brazil, South Africa, the Union of Comoros, Botswana, Kenya, Ghana, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, Peru, and Zimbabwe, they must register in person.
This is likely to be the first event in the world where participants must submit a negative test in order to participate. Furthermore, the test must be repeated every 72 hours at one of the numerous facilities that provide this service. Given that the Congress is only three days long, this measure is clearly aimed at organisers, who are always the first to arrive and the last to depart.
While using the disinfectant dispensers that will be placed throughout the venue, wearing a mask, and adhering to the social distancing requirements can be considered normal practice during this pandemic, the government has added another requirement: participants will be required to complete a health questionnaire on a daily basis. It remains to be seen how this last requirement will have any effect upon managing the pandemic; perhaps it is more a tribute to the Spanish love of paperwork and bureaucracy than a serious medical intervention.
While it is a welcome sign of a slow return to normality that the Congress will go ahead at all this year, clearly, it will not look like any previous one. If this is a sign of things to come, we can envisage Fallas 2022, with PCR tests offered on street stands instead of churros…