At GalaxyCon, masks remain optional while thousands gather
Posted July 30, 2021 12:20 p.m. EDT
Updated July 30, 2021 6:10 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — About 4,000 people attended the first day of GalaxyCon Raleigh at the Raleigh Convention Center Thursday, with many more expected to fill the venue this weekend.
Plenty of them wore masks, but many of those were simply to celebrate their favorite comic book character.
Masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are encouraged but not required at the event, which expects to see 22,000 people come through the doors over five days. In 2019, the event attracted 38,500 people.
“We expect strong attendance throughout the weekend -- moving closer to our self-imposed cap of 12,500 per day," GalaxyCon Raleigh CEO and President Mike Broder said. "While attendance is robust, it is below previous years here because we have put prudent limits on the number of people we allow in at one time. Capped attendance is one of our many added safety precautions, including making a free mask available to anyone who wants one."
Jesus Taitano said he considered the growing cirus spread before committing to attend with his family.
"Especially right now, after COVID, is a need to sort of connect and connect with people,” he said. "We have masks and try to keep that distance and get vaccinated."
The crowds and the option are a concern for Dr. Nicole Mushonga of the Wake County Public Health Department.
“If you are indoors, you should be wearing a mask. Whether you are vaccinated or unvaccinated, everyone should be wearing a mask indoors," she said.
That is in line with the new recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that vaccinated people resume wearing masks in certain indoors situations.
GalaxyCon staff and volunteers will be wearing masks this weekend, organizers said.
But many guests and vendors WRAL News saw on Thursday opted not to wear masks.
Some of this year's celebrity guests have asked for plexiglass to protect them at their respective booths. Others are wearing masks at their booths and asking those that approach them to do the same.
GalaxyCon will be at the Raleigh Convention Center through Sunday. Tickets are still available.
Ticketholders who are no longer comfortable attending the event may roll over their ticket to the 2022 event by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.