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Pandemic Convention logistics


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When weighing the pros and cons of holding this event during the 'delta wave' of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, as well as the up-to-twenty-percent breakthrough rate on vaccinated people some regions are reporting (Oregon, I believe) for COVID transmission, did this impact your decision to mandate masks at the 2021 event? What would you do differently for next year, or if you could do it all over again?

(Chroma, STAFF OTAKON 1997-2005)

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8 hours ago, kimmibeans said:

We did continuously remind people to put on their mask if we saw them, even if they were seated in a panel room. There were also signs when you entered the room that you must keep your mask on. We actually kicked somebody out for refusing to put on their mask during the masquerade. However, we don't have eyes everywhere and may have missed some folks.

I have to say that when I was gofering and had to tell people to pull it up, they did so 100% of the time.

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I’m going to repeat/paraphrase/elaborate on what I said at feedback. We have the benefit of hindsight know now things about the virus that Otakon staff didn’t know a few weeks ago, much less when they started planning for this con in earnest a few months ago.

Attendance should have been capped. Seats should have been in pods. There should have been more and clearer messaging at-con (including on video boards) about the mask mandate and when, where, why you could take your mask off. Maybe the tape tricks that one guy suggested could’ve helped.

This is not going away anytime soon and Otakon should follow Blerdcon and ANYC in imposing a mask mandate.

I have a couple friends who have young kids or work with young kids, those kids can’t get vaccinated yet and, in light of the Delta variant, they say this one out. I made the decision to go but since I’m vaccinated and the people with whom I regularly interact are vaccinated, I felt like the benefits to me personally outweighed the risks.

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4 hours ago, Aresef said:

Attendance should have been capped. Seats should have been in pods

Capped at what? Otakon has to make a certain amount for the convention to continue to operate even with the donations they received. Capping the attendance is going to put a dent in their operating costs. Seating in pods would have been a logistical hurdle and cost even more money.

4 hours ago, Aresef said:

This is not going away anytime soon and Otakon should follow Blerdcon and ANYC in imposing a mask mandate.

Otakon did have a mask mandate. I heard your feedback at the feedback panel and I think that the mask enforcement was equally enforced.  I can't think of a single instance within the convention center where a con goer had their mask off when they weren't eating or sitting and eating. 

The only area where that was a problem was at the Marquis Marriott bar/lounge on Saturday night where everyone was packed in tightly trying to get drinks and some were maskless. At that point, a cloth My Hero Academia mask is going to do little to stop anything.

 

The Otakon staff handled the mask issue in a professional and reasonable way in every instance that I saw and I believe the attendees did a very good job regulating themselves given the circumstances.  

Edited by KyoKyo
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I second an attendance cap should have happened. I got extremely anxious when they announced how many people had been at the con at closing ceremonies. If Otakon ends up being a super spreader event that's not good for the con's image or for the attendees. 

Otakon should have required proof of vaccination, if anything.

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40 minutes ago, KyoKyo said:

I can't think of a single instance within the convention center where a con goer had their mask off when they weren't eating or sitting and eating. 

I can. I saw several people with their masks off during panels or while roaming the halls.

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13 minutes ago, windseeker said:

I second an attendance cap should have happened. I got extremely anxious when they announced how many people had been at the con at closing ceremonies. If Otakon ends up being a super spreader event that's not good for the con's image or for the attendees. 

Otakon should have required proof of vaccination, if anything.

If you were that anxious then you should have known the risks before you arrived.

Edited by KyoKyo
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2 minutes ago, KyoKyo said:

If you were that anxious then you should have known the risks before you arrived.

Hun, I did. I doubt so many expected an almost normal numbers of attendees. Why you're not concerned with this convention getting labeled a super spreader event is beyond me.

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35 minutes ago, windseeker said:

I second an attendance cap should have happened. I got extremely anxious when they announced how many people had been at the con at closing ceremonies. If Otakon ends up being a super spreader event that's not good for the con's image or for the attendees. 

Otakon should have required proof of vaccination, if anything.

Just curious, but how many did they say attended otakon? Also what's next year's theme?

Edited by TomDent
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23 minutes ago, windseeker said:

Hun, I did. I doubt so many expected an almost normal numbers of attendees. Why you're not concerned with this convention getting labeled a super spreader event is beyond me.

Ok, you knew the risks of attending a non-vaccine mandated event but assumed below-normal attendance because of covid hesitancy and decided to go banking on lower numbers.  That's all on you.

Of course I'm concerned for Otakon's reputation but there's a ton of other things that could also be labelled as "super spreaders."  Sturgis, Lollapalooza, Awesome-Con (as of right now.)  Even AnimeNYC and Station Unity with their recently updated vaccine mandate. It's going to happen with large indoor venues and people need to understand the risks. 

Edited by KyoKyo
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Let’s be completely honest. This whole pandemic thing was turning around until certain groups actively campaigned against masks and vaccines. Their efforts caused COVID-19 to blow up again and Otakon got caught in that wave. Not their fault at all.
 

I cannot speak for OTAKORP, but suspect certain financial obligations had to be met due to contracts. Convention versus no convention was a tough call for them, I’m sure.

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I disagree completely with having a cap for Otakon. If you're going to do that, you might as well not even bother holding the con. It's completely not even close to feasible to even enforce 6ft social distancing. Even with only 10k people, things would have been just as bad.

Just having the mask mandate was perfectly fine, imo. Personally, I can't recall running into anyone that wasn't wearing their mask when they were supposed to, and I spent a large chunk of the con in the dealers hall, AA, and the gaming hall, where congregation is highest.

Not concerned in the slightest about this being a "super spreader" event. If you're not vaccinated and/or are worried about infecting others around you that don't/can't get the vaccine, then just don't attend the con. Although I must say, I dunno why people expected low con numbers from the get go. Otakon is basically the first "major" anime con to come back, so I was expecting people to flock back and bring in a bunch of people that usually would go to other cons that are closer to them.

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I said mask mandate when I meant a vaccine mandate earlier in reference to ANYC and Blerdcon. I was tired. But I don’t see how cons are really sustainable without that.

But I think the video boards should’ve been in use to communicate information about masks, in addition to wayfinding as they were used in years past.

I didn’t think a cap was necessary before the con because I didn’t think there would end up being so many people. I was expecting 2015.

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Keeping in mind that 1 incident does not = across the board enforcement, but one of the staffers called out a presenter at a panel Saturday night. At the 'You're Wrong, and You Should Feel Bad' panel, the presenter (Panda(?) from Many Battleships) moved from up on the dais to walking in front of the front row. (Much like how some stand-up comedians pace back and forth in front of the audience while on stage.) At one point a staffer interrupted and told him if he was going to be that close, he'd have to wear the mask - presenting on stage was enough distance, but right up front wasn't. He complied, and the panel continued. So, kudos to that staffer.

Also, there were at least 2 panels (or 1 panel and the AMV contest, I can't recall exactly) where a staffer specifically talked about attendees wearing a mask while in the convention.

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17 hours ago, KyoKyo said:

Ok, you knew the risks of attending a non-vaccine mandated event but assumed below-normal attendance because of covid hesitancy and decided to go banking on lower numbers.  That's all on you.

Of course I'm concerned for Otakon's reputation but there's a ton of other things that could also be labelled as "super spreaders."  Sturgis, Lollapalooza, Awesome-Con (as of right now.)  Even AnimeNYC and Station Unity with their recently updated vaccine mandate. It's going to happen with large indoor venues and people need to understand the risks. 

Seems like I hit a nerve there. You okay? 

Pretty sure I was hardly the only one expecting a lower turnout. But even before going I knew I wouldn't be wandering around the building like I normally do or eating inside. I'm more worried about the people there who were being lazy with masks just because they were seated. 

Edited by windseeker
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4 minutes ago, windseeker said:

Seems like I hit a nerve there. You okay? 

Pretty sure I was hardly the only one expecting a lower turnout. But even before going I knew I wouldn't be wandering around the building like I normally do or eating inside. I'm more worried about the people there who were being lazy with masks just because they were seated. 

Yeah, I was expecting attendance would take a 2015-style hit. If you told me three or four months ago that this would be the attendance, the con might've been a tougher sell for me and probably a lot of other people, independent of what we're seeing now with the Delta variant.

I don't see how conventions are feasible going forward without a vaccine requirement.

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On 8/9/2021 at 4:09 PM, windseeker said:

Seems like I hit a nerve there. You okay? 

Pretty sure I was hardly the only one expecting a lower turnout. But even before going I knew I wouldn't be wandering around the building like I normally do or eating inside. I'm more worried about the people there who were being lazy with masks just because they were seated. 

We did continuously remind people to put on their mask if we saw them, even if they were seated in a panel room. There were also signs when you entered the room that you must keep your mask on. We actually kicked somebody out for refusing to put on their mask during the masquerade. However, we don't have eyes everywhere and may have missed some folks.

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4 hours ago, kimmibeans said:

We did continuously remind people to put on their mask if we saw them, even if they were seated in a panel room. There were also signs when you entered the room that you must keep your mask on. We actually kicked somebody out for refusing to put on their mask during the masquerade. However, we don't have eyes everywhere and may have missed some folks.

Thanks for trying to keep everyone safe. The staffers I encountered were professional and reasonable and from what I saw, the mask enforcement was applied consistently

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On 8/8/2021 at 10:24 PM, KyoKyo said:

Ok, you knew the risks of attending a non-vaccine mandated event but assumed below-normal attendance because of covid hesitancy and decided to go banking on lower numbers.  That's all on you.

Of course I'm concerned for Otakon's reputation but there's a ton of other things that could also be labelled as "super spreaders."  Sturgis, Lollapalooza, Awesome-Con (as of right now.)  Even AnimeNYC and Station Unity with their recently updated vaccine mandate. It's going to happen with large indoor venues and people need to understand the risks. 

If it's soothing to know from what I've read only around 300 infections can be directly attributed to the Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago an event hosting around 350,000 people.  Granted it's outdoors and around 90% of those attendees were vaccinated, with those not requiring a pre-event test.  That's within' what they expected as far as numbers wise.

The virus itself is not going away anytime soon.  However we have two good tools now available in vaccines and masks, those two combined indoors are very effective.  I am hopeful an oral medication treatment in pill form will be available sometime soonish as which point maybe we can have less worry about indoor masking.

Overall mask compliance at the convention was pretty spot on with a few blemishes here and there.  People definitely took advantage of helmets and whatnot to hide being unmasked, and there was the party in the Marriott bar.  But overall I'd say compliance was easily over 85-90%.  The Marriott could have acted a bit faster.  If people want to roll the dice it's on them.

I did spend quite a bit of time at Anacostia Park walking, and taking in photos.  I even walked to and checked out Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens near the MD border just before Saturday's refreshing rain that started around 11:48 am.  That walking was most soothing and very good downtime, and will most certainly feature into 2022's plans.  
 

the dealers room was definitely less crowded in terms of vendors and overall I'd say there was somewhat less cosplay in general.  However overall it was very well done as far as the convention went.  I quite enjoyed Super Art Fight, will definitely be a must attend going forward.  

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