28/06/2021

MWC's return opens the road to recovery

2 min
Preparations for the MWC in Barcelona

The suspension of the Mobile World Congress in 2020 was the first warning of the seriousness of the pandemic that was upon us. At that time, few people still believed that the Wuhan coronavirus, as it was known at the time, could cause the almost total shutdown of the world and a death toll that, according to Johns Hopkins University, now stands at 3.9 million people, with 180 million cases of infection recorded. If there have been no more deaths, it is thanks to advances in medicine, which have managed to reduce the sinister list, but in any case it has been enough to provoke a shock that had not been seen for decades

The MWC organisers decided to suspend the event after a succession of cancellations from large companies, fearful of contagion and of the labour and criminal consequences of sending their employees to such a busy place with people from so many countries. It was a good idea. It is scary to think what could have happened if the congress had been held. Possibly we could not celebrate now that the 2021 edition, smaller, can start this Monday and that in principle it seems that the MWC will remain in Barcelona until 2024, and maybe even beyond

This, however, will be a different edition. According to John Hoffman, CEO of GSMA, the congress's organiser, the success of this edition will not be measured by the number of attendees -between 25,000 and 35,000, following initial estimates- nor by the business figures or the new products and gadgets that will be presented. The success of the congress is already the fact that it can open its doors. This is the great milestone that begins today and that allows us to see a horizon of a return to normality, to an economic recovery that needs events like this and the safe return of tourists.

For the moment, MWC has not come back at full intensity, and this can be seen both in terms of hotel bookings -only 40% of the establishments have opened, and those that have made special offers to encourage customers- and in terms of restaurant bookings. It will be a bridging edition, a good test and example for future events, in which the anticovid controls will be very present and that will require attendees to test for antigens and apply strict distancing and hygiene measures.

These should be very strict, because Barcelona cannot afford a large outbreak because of the congress. What has happened in Mallorca and other coastal towns with the end-of-year trips shows that one cannot let one's guard down. It is surprising that these trips have been authorised, even that someone has been asked to organise them in these circumstances, but what is unforgivable is that stricter control was not demanded of young people who, as we could already see coming, were eager for parties and social interaction and who, with the relaxation of measures, believed themselves to be invulnerable. This cannot happen again. Now that the end is near, we should not take risks.