Emerald City Comic Con organizers announced Thursday that they will be reinstating a face covering requirement for this year’s show in Seattle.
This is a significant reversal of previous ECCC policy, which sparked a backlash in June when organizers announced that masks were recommended, but not required for attendance.
Attendees of the annual comic book convention, to be held Aug. 18-22 at the Washington State Convention Center, will now be required to wear “approved face coverings” — intact, tight-fitting masks that fully cover the nose and mouth — in all areas of the show. The organizers also “strongly recommend” that spectators wear N95, KN95 or KN94 certified masks.
ECCC does not appear to be planning to check vaccination cards or recent door-to-door COVID testing for the 2022 show.
ECCC’s organizer, event creation company ReedPop, was careful to point out that its decisions were in line with current King County health and safety guidelines.
The national convention circuit is eager to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, and many shows across the country have also relaxed or outright eliminated their guidelines for attendees.
This year’s VidCon in Anaheim, Calif., would have been an event in its own right, while one of the volunteer ‘Enforcer’ staff members at this year’s PAX East show died of COVID shortly after the agreement.
ECCC waited to announce its new COVID policies until, according to exhibitors, a day after its strict deadline for cancellations. For independent artists, many of whom derive a significant portion of their annual income from the convention circuit, this has left them with a choice between potential exposure to COVID or a big financial hit from non-refundable fees.
For independent artists who may be financially impacted by ECCC’s COVID policy, Seattle-based online store Dual Wield Studios recently launched the Convention Artist Safety and Health (CASH) fund.
Artists and exhibitors who have canceled their participation in this year’s ECCC can complete the online CASH form to redeem a one-time fee for any non-refundable costs they may have incurred. The initial $10,000 for the CASH fund was led by Dual Wield. Anyone interested in contributing can do so by purchasing a specific set of merchandise from Dual Wield’s online store.
Another Seattle-area show hosted by ReedPop, the Penny Arcade Expo, is still scheduled to take place over Labor Day weekend at the WSCC. By the end of May this year, its organizers reportedly intend to implement the same health and safety regulations that PAX West had in 2021.