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PAX returns as a live event, but won't make vaccinations mandatory

PAX West
(Image credit: Penny Arcade)

Events company Reedpop has confirmed that PAX West will be held in Seattle this year, over September 3-6, having previously announced its desire to return to in-person shows as soon as possible. While it is of course great to see live events gradually returning, the aspect of this year's PAX West that's bothering some folk is a fairly straightforward one: while the event has a laundry list of health and safety precautions, including a promise to empty the bins more frequently, it will not require attendees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Events requiring mandatory vaccinations have been held in Washington and other states, a notable recent example being a huge Foo Fighters gig in New York which used that state's Excelsior Pass (a digital proof-of-vaccination) to screen attendees. Other events have chosen not to mandate that attendees are vaccinated, however, and PAX West is among these.

The event's official page does include a list of precautions that will be taken, including a daily temperature check on attendees (no refunds!), mandatory facemasks, adherence to social distancing guidelines, and a requirement that people greet without touching each other. Most of this is just common sense, though how closely it will be adhered to and enforced remains to be seen—and PAX has form in this respect.

Most will be familiar with the term 'con crud', referring to the fact that attendees at such events often find themselves coming down with a cold or flue afterwards. This has been such a factor in PAX events past that the nickname of 'PAX pox' was coined over a decade ago, given some credence by an outbreak of swine flu at the 2009 event.

Conventions at the best of times, and I've been to many dozens over the years, are ground zero for picking up minor bugs: huge crowds, physical proximity, a compromised immune system from the travel and late nights, rubbish food (hey who doesn't love an overpriced hot dog), and peripherals that have been used by hundreds before you. It is of course ReedPop's right to hold PAX West with the rules it sees fit: just as it's peoples' choice whether to agree and/or attend.

Rich Stanton

Rich was raised by a Spectrum 48K in the Scottish wilderness, and this early exposure to survival mechanics made him a rooter-out of the finest news truffles, and suspicious of all the soft, civilised Amiga people. These days he mostly plays Counter-Strike and Rocket League, and is good at one of them. He's also the author of a Brief History of Video Games.