Today, Anime Expo, the “largest celebration of Japanese pop culture in North America” announced an update to its covid health and safety protocols that disappointed many voice actors, cosplayers, and artists alike.
In a tweet, Anime Expo stated that while face covering will be required for all attendees while inside the Los Angeles Anime Convention, it will no longer require folks to provide proof of vaccination or negative test results upon entry. The Expo’s health and safety page states that all attendees, be they “exhibitors, artists, vendors, guests, staff, press, industry, volunteers, or cosplayers” are required to “wear face coverings, regardless of vaccination status,” and that “face coverings must fit snugly and properly, fully covering your nose and mouth, and secure under your chin.”
With the precedent of Anime NYC 2021, a convention that garnered over 53,000 fans, being the site of one of the first omicron variant case in the U.S. and the current surge in omicron variants across the country, voice actors, artists and cosplayers voiced their displeasure with Anime Expo’s updated health policy in a series of replies and quote retweets.
Zeno Robinson, known for his voice acting for Hawks in the anime My Hero Academia, tweeted out a reply asking Anime Expo to reconsider its policy, adding that one of his peers contracted covid from the last few conventions they attended.
“With a con as big as yours (arguably the biggest in the nation) people WILL get it if they attend, especially if you aren’t strict about the policies,” Robinson tweeted. “Please reconsider.”
“Insanely disturbing and horrifying news,” tweeted cosplayer VampyBitme. “The blood at the hands of greed. Upsetting is an understatement.”
Xiao Tong, creator of the webcomic Countdown to Countdown, expressed frustration at the convention corralling artists “in a hot basement to the point of passing out” in previous conventions and stressed her frustration with artists now having to now deal with “potentially unvaccinated people” this year as well.
“You treat your guests and artists like cattle, it’s insane. It’s TRULY inevitable that someday something serious is going to happen to somebody’s wellbeing. But I hope it’s all worth it if it means that someone up there manages to pocket a few more dollars,” she tweeted.
Illustrator Techycutie and voice actor and VTuber AmaLee raised concerns in a reply to Anime Expo’s tweet, asking whether the convention planned on issuing full refunds to attendees and artists due to its policy update occuring a month ahead of the convention.
“So you’re gonna lock people in who’ve paid over a thousand dollars in hotel, flight, badges combined to come to an event that they are probably getting Covid from or decide to lose all that money due to non refundable reservations so close to the convention?” Techycutie tweeted.
Mica Burton, cosplayer and co-host for Critical Role’s talk-show CritterHug, tweeted that it would be hard for her to trust Anime Expo if this is how it went about conducting business.
“This is a horrific display of negligence and is seriously casting a shadow on the management of this convention,” Burton tweeted.
Kotaku reached out to Anime Expo for comment.