Anime Expo 2022 Reinstates Original COVID Vaccine & Test Requirements
Anime Expo, the biggest anime convention in the US, has reinstated the requirements that all attendees produce proof of vaccination or a negative test for COVID. This occurred one day after announcing they were lifting those requirements. The reversal comes barely 24 hours after their initial announcement of the lifting of the requirements and the response to the news was almost unanimously negative and angry.
Anime Expo announced on their official Twitter feed, "AX family – we hear you.
We have reinstated our previous COVID-19 policy requiring both a proof of vaccination (or negative test) and face coverings for entry. This policy is final. More information here: https://anime-expo.org/health-safety/"
The reversal was met with near-universal approval and relief from fans and prospective attendees. Some might still not decide to attend. The question remains for why Anime Expo felt they could lift the vaccine and negative test requirement in the first place, or whether they actually believed attendees – fans, cosplayers, professionals, and vendors – would be happy with it. The vast majority of them were aware of the risks of infection, some of them might even be immunocompromised and face a higher risk to their health and lives than the average person, even vaccinated. Anime Expo faced a massive outpouring of negative publicity in the wake of its original announcement. It's a failure to read the mood of epic proportions. The threat of fans and attendees demanding refunds or credit card chargebacks was loudly and widely echoing throughout yesterday, as well as the threat of a mass boycott.
It should be noted that this does not solve the biggest issue, which is that Anime Expo still has the potential to be a super spreader event. With over 100,000 people attending in close quarters to each other, infections would seem inevitable. Other anime conventions like Fanime have already seen attendees come out infected with COVID. Disney's Star Wars Celebration has also seen attendees taking to social media to confirm their positive tests. Safety enforcement is extremely difficult when tens of thousands of people are gathered in an enclosed space no matter how good the ventilation is. Viral infections from comic and anime conventions have been commonplace long before COVID came along. Enforcing the rule is extremely difficult if not impossible. The pandemic is not over, a potentially deadly virus is still at large, even if the death toll from it has gone done since the first two years it emerged. The return to normality and the desire to save businesses that have been hurting financially are two reasons that prompted this return to full conventions, even with risks still in place. Anime Expo 2022 runs July 1-4.
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