The hottest thing you could bring home from Celebration!

by Bill Cable
on 2022-06-08, 09:11:57

Welcome back from Anaheim! Hope you had a blast. I did. But I feel a bit left out. I didn't have the opportunity to share the most popular post-Celebration photo on social media...

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Turns out we had ourselves a super-spreader event! And boy did it spread. On top of all the Facebook notifications, I personally had a handful of people call me to let me know they were positive. All have had mild symptoms, thankfully. Me - I'm totally asymptomatic. I figure all the times I was exposed by my kids bringing it home plus being vaxxed, my body fought it off. In fact, rather than losing my sense of taste and smell (as one of my buddies did), my sense of smell has been hyper-effective the past week or so. Which is weird... I usually have a pretty weak sense of smell. Have all my life. I was always congested as a kid, so I'm used to not smelling anything. When my nose actually does work, it's a bit startling.

But I didn't come here to talk about smelling stuff. I came to complain about Celebration! Like with everything else these past two years, COVID caused chaos.

When Celebration Anaheim was officially confirmed happening, it came with the announcement that masks would be required for everyone attending. And these were no lax guidelines. They went so far as to ban cosplayers from wearing helmets so it would be obvious everyone was wearing an approved medical mask. The mandate was absolute.

Given that COVID was on the wane after the Omicron surge, a lot of folks believed these requirements would be modified, but then a new uptick emerged and no changes were posted. As far as everyone knew the day before Celebration, every guest would be masked while inside the convention hall.

But... that didn't happen.

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While the PA system blared "You must wear a mask" over and over and over again, there was zero enforcement of the mandate. Cosplayers wore helmets, and were not obligated to prove they had masks on underneath. Not a single panelist in any event I attended wore a mask. Even the hired staff at the event were maskless as often as they were masked. I'd estimate walking around, less than 30% of the attendees were wearing a mask at any given time. The only attempt I saw at enforcement was one woman in a hallway who was stopping people saying "you need to wear a mask in here" and offering them for free.

Now, is it because most people eschewed masks inside the convention that a lot of people came down with COVID? I doubt it. I mean, people spent much more time maskless in the lobbies of the hotels than they did at the show. Making people wear masks 40% of the time they're around a group and not the other 60% is not going to be very effective. One might argue the efforts were doomed to failure from the start.

And that's really my complaint here. ReedPop should never have pretended they'd enforce masking in the first place. It gave people who purchased tickets a false sense of security. I am 100% certain there are people out there who decided to attend based on ReedPop's assurances that safety protocols would be in place. And I imagine those people were not very happy when they got there to find the vast majority of people there were not following the rules. What recourse do those folks have? They could either leave and suck up hundreds of dollars in lost costs, or suffer through. And I've seen how COVID anxiety punishes some people out there. A far more responsible and realistic policy would have been to announce masks were highly encouraged but optional. Everyone then would attend knowing what to expect.

Now that COVID is essentially endemic, it's unlikely we'll ever have to worry about these kinds of policies at another Celebration. At this past Celebration, though, they were an abject failure. I hope lessons were learned.





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