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UK Games Expo 2021 drops all COVID-19 safety requirements, including masks, tests and social distancing

“UKGE will not enforce any requirements that are not legally required as we do not believe that will be practical on the day.”
UK Games Expo 2019
Image: UK Games Expo via Facebook

UK Games Expo, the largest dedicated tabletop gaming convention in the UK, has announced that it will not enforce any COVID-19 health and safety requirements when it returns to Birmingham’s NEC later this month.

The board game event is set to return with an in-person convention following last year’s cancellation due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was replaced last summer by a digital event, Virtually Expo.

UK Games Expo’s latest COVID-19 rules, updated on July 6th, appear to drop any mandatory safety requirements for visitors and exhibitors attending the show from July 30th to August 1st.

“UKGE will not enforce any requirements that are not legally required as we do not believe that will be practical on the day,” the revised guidelines state.

The list specifies that face masks and social distancing will not be required, adding: “We do not require face masks but recommend you bring one as you may find times during the day where you decide it is sensible to wear one.”

Tables available for open gaming - where visitors can play games purchased at the show - will “have additional spacing to allow some social distancing when sat down”. No comment was made regarding additional spacing on demo tables at exhibitors’ booths. Aisles between booths will be four metres wide, and hand sanitiser dispensers will be available in the venue.

There will also be no limit on the number of attendees permitted at the show or any other entry restriction, including the need for a negative COVID-19 test. The UK Games Expo website states, “We would request that if possible, you do a lateral flow test before coming to the venue,” before adding: “We have no way of checking this test but please perform the test for your own peace of mind and to safeguard everyone.”

UK Games Expo ascribed the lack of safety guidelines at the event to the national rules for mass events set by Public Health England. Close to 26,000 people reportedly attended the last physical UK Games Expo in 2019.

The UK government is set to drop most of its coronavirus regulations from July 19th, despite warnings that COVID-19 cases could hit 50,000 a day in the coming weeks. Under the relaxed rules, those in the UK will only need to isolate after a positive test, with social distancing only remaining mandatory at airports and other such places of travel.

The new rules will mean that the UK has some of the laxest coronavirus guidelines in the world, despite coronavirus cases continuing to climb. The UK currently has 41.3 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, compared to 4.6 in the United States and five per 100,000 in the entire EU, according to data from the Financial Times.

Just over half of those living in the UK have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, with vaccinations slowing in recent weeks. Almost five million people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the UK as of July 7th, with more than 128,000 people in the UK having died as the result of the pandemic.


Matt Jarvis avatar

Matt Jarvis

Editor-in-chief

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.

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