New York Comic Con kicked off yesterday. The event is expected to draw around 200,000 people over the course of the long weekend, and that many people in close proximity means an increased probability of sharing germs and viruses, particularly COVID-19. Back in September con organizers ReedPop announced that masks would be required “for all participants at all times while indoors at NYCC.” A policy is only as good as its enforcement, though, and by many accounts masking at NYCC yesterday was scattershot at best, with zero enforcement of the requirement.
Early in the day on Thursday The Beat‘s Heidi MacDonald tweeted a notice and a warning for NYCC attendees about the lack of masking enforcement:
Masking is NOT being enforced on show floor. Be warned. #nycc22
— Heidi MacDonald (@Comixace) October 6, 2022
Comics writer Joe Harris, who is tabling in Artists Alley at the event, replied with his frustration at the situation, while another attendee tweeted that the situation is actually better in Artists Alley because the exhibitors are enforcing the requirement themselves.
It’s been infuriating down in artist alley all fucking day.
— Joe Harris (@JoeHarrisGhost) October 6, 2022
Yeah not enforced anywhere. Not in panel rooms, not on show floor. Artists Alley is better bc the creators are policing.
— DINOMALS! (@dinomals) October 6, 2022
Other pros and attendees also took to social media to share similar observations about the lack of masking enforcement.
Also. Only half of the attendees are wearing masks despite them being required 😒
— Melissa Capriglione PREORDER Basil and Oregano! (@mcapriglioneart) October 6, 2022
Masking is definitely mixed. Lots of folks with them as requested. Just as many folks with them pulled down or off completely. #nycc
— Adam Reck @ NYCC (@arthurstacy) October 6, 2022
Two NYCC observations right off the bat: crowds are way less dense than they’ve been in years past. There is also 0 enforcement of the masking mandate.
— Mason, The Phantom of NYCC (@rustypolished) October 6, 2022
So first impressions of NYCC day one… I'm disappointed in the lack of mask enforcements… I get folks are fatigued, and there's no governmental mask mandate now for most facilities… but they made such a show of how they're going to enforcement, only to not… (1/2)
— Knightmare6 @ NYCC (@Knightmare6) October 7, 2022
Went to the NYCC staff office to ask about the mask situation. Security is supposed to be enforcing it. The guards I asked about this on my way to the office have NOT been enforcing it.
— Reuben Baron @NYCC (@AndalusianDoge) October 6, 2022
Another attendee shared a photo of staff handing out masks. The staff member was wearing their own mask below their noise, negating its effectiveness.
— NYCCBlog (@NYCCBlogger) October 6, 2022
Popverse, which is owned by ReedPop, spoke to ReedPop’s VP of Events Kristina Rogers about the situation, and Rogers admitted that what little enforcement was in place on Thursday “was clearly not enough,” and promised that attendees would “see a difference” throughout the rest of the weekend.
Last year’s NYCC was also a mask-required show, and enforcement was definitely in place then, with multiple retailers reportedly being removed from the con floor for refusing to wear masks. Proof of vaccination or of a negative COVID test was also required to attend NYCC in 2021, while neither of those are required this year.
Many on social media have also pointed out that this year’s San Diego Comic Con, a much more densely-populated event, also had a masking requirement that it actually enforced. This also didn’t stop many people from still getting sick after attending the show, but it surely helped keep down the number of infections.
Will today be any different than yesterday? Will ReedPop finally start enforcing their own policy? If you’re in attendance at NYCC this weekend, let us know what you’re seeing, and stay safe.
Miss any of our other NYCC ’22 coverage? Find it all here!