ROSEMONT, IL – Anime Central made an announcement yesterday stating that the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant will be making an appearance at this year’s convention. The announcement came as a surprise to attendees who were not expecting such a high profile international guest only 4 days before the start of the event.
Omicron has been making waves throughout the industry, having already toured across Japan earlier this year and influencing numerous live events, productions, and music performances. Omicron’s explosive popularity has managed to traverse overseas as well where it is soon expected to reach 1 million confirmed fans within the United States alone.
Anime Central had previously reminded attendees weeks prior that masks and verification of vaccination status or a negative COVID-19 test would be required to enter the event. All requirements have since been dropped with the announcement of the new guest in a move considerate of the vendors, artists, and out-of-state visitors who have months of planning invested into attending the convention based on the previous policy.
“I would like to thank Anime Central for graciously making accommodations for me to appear this year,” Omicron announced in a statement on social media. “A lot of people assumed that I would be done with events after my past stages over the last two years, but I am excited to prove to everyone that I am in it for the long haul. I can’t wait to personally be able to interact with all of the many attendees and guests that will be there!”
Some badge-holders have responded skeptically to the announcement and expressed concerns with the sudden policy change less than a week before the convention. Anime Central addressed the concerns by reassuring badge-holders that there would be no refunds and that mask usage would still be recommended – an advisory certain be taken seriously by a crowd that historically has needed numerous reminders to practice basic hygiene.
While the schedule has yet to be updated to reflect the new guest, the enclosed poorly-ventilated panel rooms are expected to provide ample opportunity for Omicron to make an appearance. Personal meet and greet sessions will also be available within the exhibitor hall, artist alley, and on various unsanitized surfaces throughout the convention center.