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UK Games Expo 2022 drops COVID-19 guidelines again, will not require vaccination or face masks

Following reversal of decision before last year’s show.

An overhead shot of people walking around tables and along aisles on the UK Games Expo show floor
Image credit: UK Games Expo via Facebook

UK Games Expo, the UK’s largest tabletop convention, will not require proof of COVID-19 vaccination to attend when it returns to Birmingham's NEC next month.

The show, due to take place from June 3rd to 5th, stated on its website that no “covid status” - appearing to indicate a negative test result or proof of vaccination - would be required for entry.

"At present we do not expect that there will be a need to show covid status at the 2022 show but in event of a change we will publish the rules,” the event’s website stated in its FAQ section as of April 26th.

The guidelines did not specify whether face masks would be enforced on the show floor, with no mention of face coverings - recommended or mandatory - on the page.

As of May 4th, the FAQ page had been removed without explanation, with no replacement information on any COVID-19 guidelines. The page previously stated: "This information will be updated as we approach the 2022 show."

Dicebreaker made multiple attempts to contact UK Games Expo to clarify the latest guidelines and request further comment, but did not hear back by publication.

UK Games Expo 2019
Image credit: UK Games Expo via Facebook

Tim Burrell-Saward, lead designer on stacking game Beasts of Balance and app designer for the rebooted Return to Dark Tower, detailed his own exchanges with UK Games Expo’s organisers after expressing concern regarding the lack of COVID-19 guidelines.

Burrell-Saward’s Twitter DMs and email exchanges, posted in a Twitter thread, appear to show UK Games Expo’s director confirming that no COVID-19 guidelines will be in place as they are not required by the UK government or local authorities. The UK government dropped remaining COVID-19 restrictions earlier this year, removing the need for those who test positive to isolate and widespread availability of rapid-result lateral flow tests.

“At present, the [UK government, local council and venue] advice for all major events is that it is safe to proceed without any additional COVID precautions,” the email from UK Games Expo to Burrell-Saward states.

“Although this may change over the coming weeks we continue to monitor the situation and of course the entire conventions [sic] Health and Safety plan must be passed by all the relevant authorities. However they will not do this until the week before the show and reserve the right to alter the plan as they see fit.

“As we are not imposing any additional restrictions and this is well understood and accepted in the UK, there has been no need to publish any additional information.”

Some of the upcoming board games releasing in 2022Watch on YouTube

Last year, UK Games Expo initially announced that it would not require proof of vaccination or a negative test result for entry, in line with Public Health England’s dropping of all legally-mandated social distancing requirements. The guidelines requested that visitors take a lateral flow test before attending, but acknowledged that there would be no official enforcement of a negative result required for entry.

UK Games Expo 2021’s guidelines were later revised in response to widespread backlash from exhibitors and visitors, making proof of vaccination - or a negative lateral flow test - and masks mandatory.

In addition to the lack of entry and masking requirements, the UK Games Expo site does not currently specify any additional steps being taken to provide social distancing and sanitisation at this year’s event. The 2021 event included wider aisles between booths, increased ticketing space and extra room around tables used for open gaming and tournaments.

As of May 9th, more than 193,000 people in the UK have died with COVID-19 on their death certificate, with over 176,000 of those deaths within 28 days of testing positive for the coronavirus, according to the government’s latest figures. Over 22 million people in the UK have tested positive for the virus, a greater proportion of the overall population than the US, European Union, Greece, Hungary and South Africa according to data from John Hopkins University (via the Financial Times). The UK has also seen more coronavirus-related deaths per 100,000 citizens over the last seven days than all of those countries.

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