US board game convention Gen Con 2021 will require unvaccinated visitors to wear a mask when its physical event returns in person this September, with those showing proof of COVID-19 vaccination able to optionally attend without a face covering.
Gen Con’s organisers previously announced plans for the Indianapolis event to return in-person this year, following its cancellation last summer as the result of the coronavirus pandemic. It was replaced by an online event, Gen Con Digital, which will run alongside the physical show this September 16th to 19th, having been delayed from its usual August dates.
The online and in-person events will be complemented by game demos held at local game stores as part of a new Pop Up Gen Con initiative. Partner stores will need to abide by Gen Con’s health and safety guidelines to participate.
Gen Con announced in March that it would cap the number of daily visitors permitted to the Indiana Convention Center, as well as maintaining rules around social distancing, the need to wear face masks and vaccination requirements. Organisers described the show as running in a “modified format” as the result of the health and safety measures.
The event’s organisers have now clarified the rules around mask wearing at Gen Con Indy 2021, stating that masks will be enforced for all visitors who do not present proof of COVID-19 vaccination or are medically exempt. “Mask wearing will be required at all times for all unvaccinated persons,” confirmed Gen Con president David Hoppe in a blog post outlining the updated requirements.
Those who present proof of vaccination, along with ID, will be given a wrist bracelet signifying their vaccinated status. Vaccinated attendees can choose whether to wear a mask at the show, with Hoppe adding that “mask-wearing at Gen Con will be strongly recommended at all times indoors or in crowded areas for all Gen Con attendees”.
Another health & safety update! With our surveys showing 87% of attendees vaccinated, we are dropping mask requirements for vaccinated attendees while requiring masks for unvaccinated attendees, and changing exhibit hall entry. Read the full update here: https://t.co/ilTfkl1h92— Gen Con (@Gen_Con) July 8, 2021
According to Gen Con’s own surveyed data, approximately 90% of visitors claim they will be fully vaccinated by the time of the show. 47.6% of people in the United States have been fully vaccinated as of July 7th, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (via NPR), including 42.7% of Indiana residents.
Alongside the vaccination requirement, Gen Con confirmed that it would limit capacity to approximately 60% of the event’s “normal size”. 70,000 people attended Gen Con’s last physical show in 2019, according to its organisers. Other measures will include additional spacing around all gaming tables, as well as overnight sanitisation of the venue.
The explicit enforcement of masks for unvaccinated visitors stands in contrast to the rules set by Gen Con’s home state of Indiana, which dropped all health and safety requirements around COVID-19 at the beginning of July.
On July 7th, the CDC reported that cases of COVID-19 in the United States are continuing to rise despite vaccination efforts. Over 33 million cases have been reported to date, with more than 600,000 people having died as the result of the pandemic.