Anime Convention Sparks Backlash for Shutting Down Vaccination Site

An anime convention is taking precedence over vaccine appointments in California.

The Grounds, a COVID-19 vaccination site in Roseville, California is closing for two days to host SacAnime, an anime convention listed as a swap meet. An event description on the Grounds website says more than 100 vendors and cosplayers are expected to attend.

According to websites for the venue and for SacAnime, the event will be held Friday, April 2 through Sunday, April 4 at The Grounds, with face masks required and social distancing protocols observed.

Starting April 1, California will begin offering coronavirus vaccines to all 50 to 64-year-olds, meaning the start of the new phase will be delayed at this vaccination site because of the SacAnime event.

County spokeswoman Katie Combs-Prichard told The Sacramento Bee that the clinic has extended its hours this Monday through Wednesday into the evening to “maximize the volume” of doses administered this week to compensating for the closures.

Combs-Prichard also stated that around 90% of this week’s approximately 5,400 appointments at the site are second-dose appointments, adding that “the impact on first dose appointments available in that time window is not very large.”

In an emailed statement to HuffPost, SacAnime’s communications director said that the event was planned months in advance and pushed back on the accusations from critics.

“When we knew there might be an issue with the vaccine site we reached out to them and offered to keep our event out of their area. They declined due to already scheduling more hours Monday through Wednesday. We realize how that looks but we work closely with the fairgrounds and the decision to continue was taken,” the statement read.

SacAnime fans and locals believe the event is sneaking by COVID-19 guidelines by labeling its event as a “swap meet” instead of as a convention. Under California’s reopening framework, swap meets are permitted at 50% capacity in counties in the red tier of COVID-19 activity but convention center events must remain closed.

“This event is just a vendor area … with a highly reduced amount of attendees allowed inside. There are no panels, cosplay meetups, dance, or any other event that would compromise the guidelines, and the Placer County fairgrounds is fully aware of what the event entails. Overall we stand by working with county officials and will continue to do so in a safe and healthy manner,” the event added.

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