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As the coronavirus outbreak in the Seattle area worsens, ReedPOP, organizers of next week’s still-planned Emerald City Comic Con 2020, has released a statement, both via social media and in an email to ticketholders, saying they are suspending their ‘no refunds’ policy, and allowing ticketholders who choose not to attend the convention to request a refund:

We here at Reedpop remain dedicated to running Emerald City Comic Con but understand that not everyone will be comfortable with that decision; if you wish to forgo aTTending this year’s edition of Emerald City Comic Con, we absolutely respect your wishes and will refund your ticket purchase (details on just how to do this will be on our website).

The news comes amid a wave of cancellations from both con floor exhibitors including Dark Horse Comics, Penguin Random House, Valiant, and Oni Press; publishers like DC Comics, which was slated to host a series of panels; and creators exhibiting in Artists Alley. The statement from ReedPOP regarding ticketholder refunds does not indicate that refunds will be offered to other cancelees, meaning those companies and individuals are out booth costs.

The discussion among both pros and fans over attending Emerald City Comic Con has been widespread on social media. For pros, the choice is two-fold: there’s the obvious matter of health, with Artists Alley exhibitors surrounded by and in contact with thousands of people every day during the con; there’s also the matter of money, as many creators simply can’t afford to miss a show like this, due to both the amount of money they’ve already sunk into going, and the potential income from con sales they’d be losing out on by not attending. It’s a hard position to be in, for sure, with no concrete right or wrong answer.

For those who have decided to skip ECCC, a support list has been set up that provides fans with options for supporting those creators via online shops and websites.

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What’s likely to be lowered attendance for Emerald City Comic Con is also sure to have an impact on the economy of Seattle and the rest of King County. NBC reports at least one business owner referring to the downtown Seattle as “a ghost town,” and local businesses like restaurants were likely counting on revenue from the increased traffic due to con attendees being in town.

This is all amid a continued worsening of the coronavirus outbreak in western Washington. The death toll from the virus has risen to 10 people in the state, with nine deaths in Seattle’s King County and another in neighboring Snohomish County.

Still, with more and more artists and exhibitors pulling out, many observers were questioning Reedpop’s decision not to cancel the show outright. The London Book Fair, a show also run by Reed Exhibitions, Reedpop’s parent company, has already been canceled, as has the Paris Book Fair.

The complete statement from ECCC:

Since its inception, fans have comprised the very core of Emerald City Comic Con and all of Reedpop. We speak daily (and at great length!) about how to always put our fans first in everything we do. The evolving situation with the COVID-19 virus and developments in and around the city of Seaמּle have most certainly been at the forefront of our minds as Emerald City Comic Con approaches. Our customer base is central to all Reedpop decisions, and this scenario is no different. We value all of your voices and the spectrum of feedback that we have been receiving. Knowing that no two fans are alike, we have decided to make an exception to our no refunds ticket policy for our fans who are unable or uncomfortable aמּending Emerald City Comic Con in light of current events.

We here at Reedpop remain dedicated to running Emerald City Comic Con but understand that not everyone will be comfortable with that decision; if you wish to forgo aמּending this year’s edition of Emerald City Comic Con, we absolutely respect your wishes and will refund your ticket purchase (details on just how to do this will be on our website).

We are commiמּed to following the enhanced cleaning guidelines, precautions and procedures that we recently deployed at our PAX East event in Boston and C2E2 in Chicago. We also insist that all fans, guests and exhibitors adhere to good sense and all protocols as suggested by the CDC. We are fully prepared to adjust our plans as the situation in and around Seaמּle develops. We are following – and will remain in compliance with – all city, state and federal guidelines. If the direction from federal, state or local official public health authorities does change between now and the show, we will adhere to that guidance, act upon it immediately, and update you.

We recognize that not everyone will agree with our decision: it is our feeling that this community values coming together and building connections, even in difficult times; that artists depend on fan relations to keep their work and careers growing; and that the very vibrancy of what makes our community special is just the type of energy and optimism that can buoy us as a broader community through these challenging and anxious times. In short, we feel we owe it to the customer to grant you the personal choice of whether or not to aמּend.

Our staff are fans, too, and we will be offering them the same option regarding aמּendance and working the show. In addition to extended daily work hours to bring you the best experience possible, incredibly long hours are dedicated yearlong to building Emerald City Comic Con. Staff are stakeholders in this event as well and we will honor their personal preferences.

Please stay in touch with us via our website and social media channels as this situation evolves. We continue to enthusiastically look forward to seeing you in Seattle very soon.

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