LISBON (Reuters) – Europe’s biggest tech conference – the Web Summit – will return as an in-person event in Lisbon this November, organisers confirmed to Reuters on Wednesday, after the event was held online last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Web Summit CEO Paddy Cosgrave had said last November that the venue, Lisbon’s Altice Arena, had been booked for 2021 and he expected the event to return in-person.
Organisers said on Wednesday they were in regular contact with health authorities to set up a COVID-safe event.
It has not yet been decided whether masks or tests will be required, communications manager Katherine Farrell told Reuters, but the venue is being prepared to ensure social distancing is possible.
According to the Portuguese government’s current plans, compulsory use of masks in outdoor areas will be lifted in September but will still be required in large gatherings and be compulsory indoors.
Elements of the conference will be streamed online, as was the case prior to the pandemic, Farrell said.
“We couldn’t be more excited to return in-person. Seeing people safely connecting in-person again, and re-experiencing the magic of face-to-face interactions, will be incredible,” CEO Cosgrave said in a statement.
Over 1,000 speakers and 1,250 startups are lined up to attend the Summit, which will take place from Nov. 1-4, the company said.
Around 104,000 attended the online-only event last year. Organisers said they expected over 40,000 people to attend the conference this year. Just under 70,500 tickets were sold for the 2019 event.
The number of daily new coronavirus cases rose in June and early July to levels last seen in February, when Portugal was under a strict lockdown, but has been falling slightly since late July as the vaccination campaign progresses.
Some 71% of Portugal’s population has received one dose of a COVID vaccine, and 62% are fully vaccinated, according to government data.
(Reporting by Victoria Waldersee; Editing by Inti Landdauro and Mark Potter)