Here’s what PAX Aus is doing to keep you COVID-safe

PAX Aus is going to be hug-free, heavily streamed, and above all, hygienic. Is this the future of conventions in a post-COVID world?

A few weeks ago PAX Aus announced that the country’s largest gaming culture convention would take place in person at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre in 2021, following 2020’s all-digital, 9-day event, PAX Online. While COVID-19 restrictions are easing in Victoria following hard lockdowns, there are still COVID-safe regulations to consider ahead of attending. 

PAX Aus will run 8-10 October, and while safety guidelines are currently a bit general, organisers have stated that clear health and safety guidelines will be readily available and well-advertised through official channels closer to the event. 

READ: PAX Aus returns to Melbourne after a year online 

Tickets are available from today onward (barring the website’s current technical issues), and exhibitors and attending publishers will be announced from August onwards. 




TICKET AVAILABILITY 

At this stage, COVID-safe guidelines allow MCEC to invite attendees at 75% capacity, which PAX will occupy in full. This restriction may change if guidelines relax closer to the event.

If PAX Aus is cancelled, rescheduled, or significantly relocated, refunds and exchanges will be offered to ticket holders, but it will not any other expenses incurred, such as travel or accommodation. 

PAX Aus has also not changed its policy of refusing to refund tickets due to change of mind or inability to attend, which means that if you’re sick on the day, Penny Arcade will not reimburse you for your ticket — a risky move, as it could encourage unwell people to attend, and illness is easily transmitted at a large-scale indoor event. Full terms and conditions of ticket sales are available.

Keeping it COVID-SAFE: 

PAX Aus’ COVID protocols are being developed in collaboration with the MCEC, and may change in response to changes to the national and local health guidelines. The website states that requirements like temperature checks, masks, and requirements around vaccination or COVID-testing will be at the discretion of the venue, whose guidelines are available here, and will continue to be updated. 

PAX Aus have also stipulated that they are ‘working with the venue, our partners and exhibitors, to ensure we have sufficient plans in place to allow appropriate social distancing,’ in addition to the following safety protocols: 

Physical distancing: By controlling the crowd occupancy, appropriate physical distancing can occur throughout the event. This will be supported where feasible with wider aisle ways and access and exit controls.

Cleaning and Hygiene Countermeasures: In collaboration with the MCEC, we will ensure that the optimum cleaning procedures, ventilation, temperature, humidity and UV air purification controls are in place.

Hand Sanitiser Stations: Hand sanitiser stations will be positioned at key locations throughout the event.

Eliminating Handshakes and hugs: We recommend the elimination of handshakes and hugs at PAX for your own safety.

Food Safety and Hygiene: In collaboration with the MCEC, we will prohibit open or self-service buffets in favour of food served as individual serves.

Transparent Communication Before and During the Event: Our goal is to open the doors of our shows in a responsible manner while respecting the protection of participants and our employees.’

Accessibility and online attendance

MCEC is fully wheelchair accessible. Hearing loops are also available via a programmed receiver that can be collected from the MCEC concierge desk – though these must be returned daily, and PAX Aus recommends getting in contact before the event to ensure they can provide an adequate supply. 

If you can’t attend in person, there are also digital options. In addition to livestreaming their three main theatres, PAX Aus is adding an online-only streaming theatre into its year of programming. The organisers are currently looking into ways to record events in non-streamed theatres as well. 

PAX’s online content will be free to view. 

Tickets to PAX Aus are currently available. Attendees can buy tickets  through the website. and exhibitors can register their interest or submit an inquiry through this form.

Jini Maxwell is a writer and curator who lives in Naarm. They are an assistant curator at ACMI, where they also host the Women & Non-binary gamers club. They write about videogames and the people who make them. You can find them on Twitter @astroblob