IFA will be one of the first big in-person tech events post-lockdown

It will be an invitation-only event with strict attendance limits.

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IFA logo at the Berlin Fair during the international electronics and innovation fair IFA in Berlin on September 11, 2019. (Photo by Emmanuele Contini/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Emmanuele Contini/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Many of 2020’s technology events have been relegated to virtual gatherings or cancelled outright due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but IFA will still be an in-person expo — albeit with very tight restrictions. Organizers have received the go-ahead to hold IFA 2020 between September 3rd and September 5th, but it will be an invitation-only affair with four separate events, each limited to 1,000 people per day. There will also be just a handful of stages to minimize the number of production staff while preserving the “highest hygiene standards.”

The headliner will be the Global Press Conference, which was originally slated for April and will now serve more as a showcase for the latest products. Qualcomm’s President will deliver the opening keynote. IFA Next and Shift Mobility have been merged into one event focused on startups and “connected mobility” companies to help them get coverage and industry networking. Global Markets will help the supply chain connect, while Business, Retail & Meeting Lounges will let companies hook up with retailers.

Don’t worry too much if you’d been hoping to visit. There will be “virtual opportunities” to attend, organizers said, although they haven’t elaborated on what that will involve.

This probably isn’t what many were hoping for, although IFA doesn’t have much choice when Germany’s restrictions at that point will still limit attendees to 5,000 at most. Authorities in many countries are determined to minimize the chances of a second wave of COVID-19, and that means limiting chances for the associated coronavirus to spread. As it stands, it’s hard to imagine large-scale attendance for any tech event in the near future unless there’s a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. Even if people aren’t skittish about crowds, they may be reluctant to travel just to see the latest tech.

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