Covid Rules: GenCon Yes, Origins & UKGE No

Gen Con (August 4-7) has announced that masks and proof of vaccination will be required at the convention this year. At present, two of the other largest tabletop gaming conventions -- both of which are coming next month -- currently have no COVID restrictions.

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Origins Game Fair (June 8-12) has dropped its mask mandate, saying that masks this year are recommended but not mandatory. This announcement came just three days before the May 2 deadline to request refunds for attendee badges (with a 10% service fee) and after the cancelation window for vendors. After backlash to the announcement, GAMA (Game Manufacturer's Association, the tabletop gaming industry trade organization and the group behind Origins Game Fair) stated they would extend the rollover window for vendors until May 11, but the organization has not extended the refund deadline for attendees, which has now expired. This change in health and safety policy came just days before news broke that a convention volunteer at PAX East passed away due to a COVID-19 infection she received at that event.

UK Games Expo (June 3-5) is also not currently requiring masks or vaccines. The show's FAQ page has been removed, but it previously said "At present we do not expect that there will be a need to show covid status at the 2022 show but in event of a change we will publish the rules". Tim Burrell-Seward posted an email from UKGE Director Tony Haynes, who said "As we are not imposing any additional restrictions and this is well understood and accepted in the UK, there has been no need to publish any additional information". However, he does also say that the plans may change up until the week before the show.

In a further Twitter post, a user said that they had a long telephone conversation with Tony Haynes, and indicated that 2022's Health & Safety policy statement will be released 'probably next week' (this was last Thursday, May 11th). "A Health and Safety policy statement for the 2022 event will be released soon, "probably next week", and will be made in conjunction with the local council's direction (Solihull BC). That statement will not require proof of vaccination OR mandatory face coverings."

It was also confirmed during that call that sanitize stations will not be available in the trade halls, but that there are stations elsewhere in the NEC complex, including the entranceways to the halls. It was also confirmed that UKGE will allow exhibitors to enforce their own mask rules on their own booths/stands.

Other large events, such as E3, have been cancelled completely.
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Origins change in policy, and the way in which it was announced, mean I'm 99% sure I'm cancelling. At Gary Con, masks were supposedly required, but people got really lax as the weekend went on. Origins is a far larger con, and with masks being optional, I imagine that there's going to be a whole lot of people going around unmasked. More than I would feel comfortable being around.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
I've held off buying a badge for Origins - I'd love to go this year but I figured I would want to be closer to the actual date before I decided if I wanted to risk it. I'm still up in the air - but I'm trending closer to "no" than I thought I would have a couple of months ago. The lack of a masking mandate is part of the reason for that tbh.
 


I work at a medical library down the street from the CDC in Atlanta, and while I keep a mask handy just in case, I've basically not felt at risk for a couple months. But a big convention, with tens of thousands of people coming around the world all in the same space? Yeah, I'd mask up in any indoor space.

But I genuinely wonder when I'll feel differently about that. We're on a nice long downward trend in COVID. If the numbers keep going down gradually, I think I might honestly feel safe to be unmasked in a crowd by August. But I felt that way last year and had a GenCon badge, which I canceled in early September when the Delta variant came in and numbers started shooting back up.
 

mcmillan

Adventurer
We're on a nice long downward trend in COVID. If the numbers keep going down gradually, I think I might honestly feel safe to be unmasked in a crowd by August. But I felt that way last year and had a GenCon badge, which I canceled in early September when the Delta variant came in and numbers started shooting back up.
If we were continuing a downward trend I might be feeling better - pic of last 60 days weekly case rates for Atlanta, my area in Denver, and the relevant locations for Origins
 

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Jer

Legend
Supporter
If we were continuing a downward trend I might be feeling better - pic of last 60 days weekly case rates for Atlanta, my area in Denver, and the relevant locations for Origins
Yup - we're trending back up slowly in Franklin County - nowhere near where we were in January but I don't like the trend.
 

Retreater

Legend
Yeah, the CDC is predicting a massive spike coming this summer, leading into fall. We're not nearly out the woods yet. What is it - 100M more cases before the end of the year?
My anecdotes, both my parental-in-laws had it a week ago and numerous co-workers over the past two weeks. My wife had a scare last week too.
I don't know about the rest of you, but I've given up on this ever getting back to "normal."
 

Zarithar

Adventurer
Crypticon here in Seattle (this weekend) is requiring vaccinations, but masks are optional. As of right now, it looks like Emerald City Comic Con and PAX West both still have mask requirements in place (though this may change before the August/Sept convention dates)
 

MarkB

Legend
Yeah, the CDC is predicting a massive spike coming this summer, leading into fall. We're not nearly out the woods yet. What is it - 100M more cases before the end of the year?
My anecdotes, both my parental-in-laws had it a week ago and numerous co-workers over the past two weeks. My wife had a scare last week too.
I don't know about the rest of you, but I've given up on this ever getting back to "normal."
Likewise. Even before the pandemic I've always thought that you basically couldn't design a more perfect event for super-spreading airborne diseases than a games convention if you deliberately set out to do it.

Convention Lurgy was always a well-known phenomenon - I used to routinely book an extra couple of days off after a con because I knew I'd come home sick.
 

MGibster

Legend
Likewise. Even before the pandemic I've always thought that you basically couldn't design a more perfect event for super-spreading airborne diseases than a games convention if you deliberately set out to do it.
I invarily pick up some sort of bug during intern season when I go to college job fairs. I don't have any objections to wearing a mask, but I think it's kind of silly to have a mask requirement at any event with thousands of people who cannot possibly practice good social distancing. If it's too dangerous to go without a mask then it's too dangerous to hold the event.
 

aramis erak

Legend
Corvallis Parks & Rec held a 2 day convention, C3 Con, in march. Masks required. No vacc checks. No space for pickup games. No observers for the game sessions.

JAGC hasn't been announced whether it will return or not, it's the local run-by-gamestore-staff game con.

My FLGS still requires masks for the back room.
 






kenada

Legend
Supporter
This is what the email I got from GAMA re: Origins mask mandate says:

MASK REQUIREMENT REINSTATED​

GAMA, the nonprofit organization that manages Origins Game Fair, announced today that based on concerns from GAMA members, exhibitors, GMs and attendees as well as an upward trend in the pandemic, has reinstated the mask requirement in the interest of everyone's health and safety.

Q&A
If I bought a badge between April 29th & May 17th, can I get a refund?

Yes. Please email support@gama.org.

Will I get 100% of my money refunded?
Yes.

If I bought a badge before April 29th do I get a refund?
No. That badge was bought under the same mask policy and that deadline has passed.

Is this policy going to change again?
No, this will be the final policy for Origins 2022! We understand that the changes have been frustrating for some, but we are taking steps to ensure a safe and fun convention!

Can I rollover my badge to 2023?
No. We are not doing any rollovers this year.

We have a wealth of information in our current FAQ as well. Please check it out!
 


I am really surprised. Happily, but because they dropped the mask mandate for a few weeks, they're going to need to have people watching for compliance. I suspect that there are going to be plenty of people there acting like it's still optional.

This is what the email I got from GAMA re: Origins mask mandate says:
 

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