As this pandemic drags on, many of us reasoned that we would be facing another year without any of our beloved conventions. Vaccinations are up, but case numbers haven’t exactly been decreasing (especially in NYC), and though many have speculated a return to some semblance of normalcy perhaps by the end of the summer, many major conventions – such as San Diego Comic-Con – have already planned virtual events for this year. However, ReedPop announced today that New York Comic Con and three of its other events are aiming to be in-person this fall. That’s right, folks, NYCC 2021 is a go at the Javits.
NYCC 2021 is scheduled for October 7-10, but that isn’t the only ReedPop convention returning this year. Florida Supercon, at the Miami Beach Convention Center, will be September 10-12. Emerald City Comic Con will be held December 2-5 at the Washington State Convention Center. And C2E2, which is usually held in the spring, will be at McCormick Place December 10-12. A companion virtual event will be held alongside all physical events at FindtheMetaverse.com.
I doubt I’m only speaking for myself when I say how much I appreciate what con organizers did in 2020 to keep things going. Virtual events like SDCC@Home and NYCC Metaverse did their best to keep up the spirit of a good con, with star-studded panels, exclusive merchandise, and “virtual” show floors linking to the small businesses and artists that keep cons running. (ReedPop even opened its own Discord server to host fan meetups and watch parties.)
But I think most of us can agree that it just wasn’t the same. Yes, I got to see tons more content than usual because I didn’t have to worry about conflicting panels or being shut out of a room because I had to race across the convention center, but nothing beats actually being there.
That said, we are still in a pandemic, and though things are starting to look up, there’s no way of knowing what the situation will be like in September when these cons open their doors. With that in mind, ReedPop has revealed – via a letter from Kristina Rogers, the Event Director – some new guidelines in order to try and hold a safe, in-person event. Below are the highlights, but for anyone interested, they have published their full safety precautions guide.
- All shows will run with a reduced capacity. The intent is to keep badge numbers limited so that it will be easier to practice social distancing. Plus, many states still have caps on how many people can attend an event. (For example, New York sporting events are currently at 25% capacity.) ReedPop is working with each convention center to determine how many people are allowed into the building at any given time.
- Face coverings are required for all individuals, including exhibitors and staff, and must be worn at all times. So if you don’t have any geeky masks, it’s time to stock up! (I just bought some Marvel ones that I am actually quite excited about.) If you need more information, check out the FAQ pages on the various show websites (linked above).
- Temperature checks will be required to enter the event, and anyone with an elevated temperature will not be permitted entry.
- There will be increased sanitization and cleaning with enforced social distancing throughout each event. Likely there will be random hand sanitizer dispensers all over the place.
- ReedPop has adopted a firm “no contact” policy – that is no handshakes, high-fives, or hugs. They recommend elbow bumps or air fives, but I would like to humbly suggest we bring back bowing.
Fans are encouraged to follow the various social media channels for each event to keep up-to-date with news and announcements. There may yet still be restrictions announced, as every state has different protocols.
The response to this announcement, at least in the case of NYCC (of which I am an annual attendee), is naturally mixed. Some people are ready to get back to something resembling “normal”, even if it’s a reduced-capacity event where you have to wear masks. However, others are expressing concern that these guidelines aren’t quite restrictive enough; some have suggested requiring proof of vaccination, or limiting attendees to residents only. We’re nowhere near the suggested 75% immunization rate that we need to reach what is considered “herd immunity”, which makes having a big, indoor event like this (even with some safety measures in place) risky and socially irresponsible.
After all, the Javits is currently a vaccination site where thousands of people get vaccinated every day. And just a year ago it was a hospital. So it’s a little odd to think of getting back to normal right now.
But who’s to say whether these plans will come to fruition. After all, there’s nothing concrete right now except the dates. When you head to the “badges” section on the NYCC website, the only thing there is a form to sign up for the newsletter (which I highly recommend that you do). There are applications for Artist Alley and panels, but nothing for press or professionals yet, which always open before regular badge sales (and in previous years would already be open).
Rest assured that I will strive to keep our Beginner’s Guide to NYCC updated as information gets released.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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