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PAX Unplugged makes full vaccination and masks mandatory for December return of board game convention

Following 2020 cancellation due to COVID-19.

PAX Unplugged has announced that masks will be mandatory and full vaccination required for entry to the Philadelphia board game convention taking place this December.

PAX Unplugged - which is organised by Dicebreaker owner ReedPop - was cancelled last year for the first time since its 2017 debut as the result of health and safety guidelines concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.

While no dedicated digital alternative was run in the place of the November event, the PAX Online x EGX Digital crossover held during September 2020 combined elements of the US, Australian and UK gaming shows into a nine-day virtual event. The online event included a tabletop zone and a number of panels on board games, pen-and-paper RPGs and other tabletop games, including multiple appearances from the Dicebreaker team.

PAX Unplugged 2021 will mark the return of the in-person convention to Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Convention Center from December 10th to 12th. Among the exhibitors currently announced to appear at the show are Gloomhaven maker Cephalofair, Cyberpunk Red publisher R. Talsorian Games, Codenames creator Czech Games Edition and Root studio Leder Games.

In a health and safety update posted October 5th, PAX Unplugged’s organisers confirmed that full vaccination would be required for entry to the physical event, with visitors expected to show proof of vaccination - either digitally or on a physical vaccination card - along with a matching ID in order to attend. The requirement will include visitors, exhibitors and event staff. The event’s organisers said full details would be announced in the coming weeks.

In addition, face masks will be required throughout the event, including cosplayers’ costumes. The safety requirements will be enforced on the show floor by new Safety Ambassadors, according to PAX Unplugged’s latest health and safety information summary.

Cover image for YouTube video

PAX Unplugged will also see increased sanitisation of the Convention Center, contact tracing, and social distancing measures such as direction and distance markings and increased booth space, the show’s organisers added.

The vaccination and mask requirements align with those of this month’s Essen Spiel board game convention due to take place in Germany next week. Recent US board game convention Gen Con revised its health and safety guidelines to make masks mandatory for the returning Indiana event - which was cancelled for the first time in its 50-year history in 2020 - but did not enforce proof of vaccination for visitors. Over the summer, UK Games Expo required proof of a negative COVID-19 test or full vaccination for attendees, along with face masks while inside, after receiving backlash to its initial lack of health and safety requirements.

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About the Author
Matt Jarvis avatar

Matt Jarvis


After starting his career writing about music, films and video games for various places, Matt spent many years as a technology, PC and video game journalist before writing about tabletop games as the editor of Tabletop Gaming magazine. He joined Dicebreaker as editor-in-chief in 2019, and has been trying to convince the rest of the team to play Diplomacy since.