The convention this comic was based on (which I will not name but is an Anime con in the Central United States) announced on Twitter, several weeks before the event, that no further changes to their COVID policies would be occurring. Masks would be required, and nobody would be admitted without proof of vaccination and/or a negative test. Every anime convention I have attended since the beginning of the year has had very similar policies, and they work well.
Then, only four days before this convention was set to start, their board of directors posted across social media that they were making masks optional and no longer requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test. They claimed that this was due to "changes in COVID protocols by the CDC" and the requirements of the convention center, neither of which had actually changed in months. They also made it clear that the refund deadline had passed, which meant that anyone who had bought tickets and chose not to attend for any reason couldn't get refunded. Most of their staffers were unaware of the change prior to the public announcement.
The backlash online was intense. People felt like they'd been scammed, as many of them were also unable to cancel their travel or lodging arrangements at this late date. A number of staffers quit in protest, and many of them reportedly faced retaliation as a result. The convention did eventually partially reinstate its masking policy, but that was the only positive change.
The worst part is, the convention probably didn't lose much money for doing this. They kept a lot of badge fees from people who never ended up attending. I've also heard reports of attendees testing positive after the event, which is hardly unexpected considering the circumstances. So they created an unsafe environment, waited until the last minute to let people know so they couldn't get refunded, and got away with it. For now.
The thing is, a lot of people are going to remember that this happened. My hope is that next year, all the cons that pulled stunts like this (because there WERE others) will find their attendance dramatically reduced. I've personally written this con off as one I'll never attend, at least until there is some serious reorganization.
As one final note, I'd like to compliment Super MAGFest for how they handled their policies this year. My friends and I, despite having gotten non-refundable badges ahead of time, did not attend their event this year because of a massive outbreak of the Omicron variant in the area. MAGFest's response? In addition to keeping their reasonable COVID policy in place, they made an exception to their no-refunds rule and gave us our money back. This policy may have cost them some money right then, but we'll all definitely be going back to Super MAGFest next year. Hopefully, more cons will follow their example.
Rock on, guys, and never stop drawing.