PAX West will now require attendees to prove they’ve been vaccinated for COVID-19 or received a negative test result before they’re allowed to enter the convention, organizers Penny Arcade and ReedPop announced on Monday.
ReedPop set PAX West 2021’s September 3rd start date in 2020, and at the time, it wasn’t planning on requiring attendees to be vaccinated or prove they were COVID-19-free. The initial health and safety guidelines for the event instead focused on the face coverings, social distancing, and the cleaning protocols PAX West would feature when attendees congregated in Seattle. You don’t have to scroll very far through PAX’s Twitter replies to see how fans and potential attendees have responded to the convention’s gung-ho attitude toward holding the event.
Besides the risks COVID-19 still poses, including the growing case numbers among unvaccinated populations, PAX’s organizers should have known better. Conventions are synonymous with spreading viruses and spreading them quickly. PAX itself is also infamous for the “PAX pox” outbreak of swine flu in 2009.
Taking that into account, it seems obvious that attendees would want more rigid safety precautions to be taken if the event were to continue as planned — especially since ReedPop and Penny Arcade ultimately canceled PAX East in Boston earlier this year due to “public health concerns.” Finally taking the extra step to require vaccinations or proof of a negative COVID-19 test result is not being overly cautious at this point. It's being realistic.