Fan Expo New Orleans organizers warn celebrity cancelations mounting amid omicron concerns
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A growing list of pop culture celebrities have canceled their scheduled appearances this weekend at Fan Expo New Orleans over omicron concerns, organizers warned ticket holders on Wednesday (Jan. 5).
“We’re really looking forward to celebrating fandom with you, but want to be upfront and transparent about what to expect this weekend,” event organizers wrote fans in a letter also posted to social media. “We’ve been closely monitoring the Omicron situation, and while it has created some challenges, we’re still committed to delivering a safe event ... It will just be a little different than what we had originally planned. Some of our guests are no longer able to attend the show.”
Among those who have canceled their appearances are “The Book of Boba Fett” co-star Ming-Na Wen, filmmaker Kevin Smith and his “Jay and Silent Bob” acting partner Jason Mewes, former “Arrow” star Steven Amell, actress Christina Ricci, actor John Barrowman (”Torchwood”), screenwriter David Hayter, “as well as comic guests you may have been looking forward to seeing,” organizers said.
Headliners currently still expected to appear for autograph sessions include “Star Trek” icon and recent astronaut William Shatner, and New Orleans actor Anthony Mackie, who after portraying The Falcon in several Marvel films and a television series has become the new Captain America of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The letter said fans who have pre-purchased photo op or autograph packages with celebrities no longer appearing will receive an email notice explaining their “options.”
Ticket holders who themselves have COVID-19 concerns or are disappointed by the slimmed-down lineup are not being offered refunds, but instead can request a “raincheck” to transfer their ticket to Fan Expo New Orleans 2023 or to any other Fan Expo 2022 event in other cities. The letter advises those patrons to contact the company’s customer service team through the event’s website.
Organizers of the event, which prior to its cancelation in 2021 over COVID-19 concerns was known as Wizard World New Orleans, did not immediately respond to questions from WVUE-Fox 8 regarding estimated attendance for the Jan. 7-9 comic book and pop culture convention. Nor did they answer whether new safety measures would be put in place for attendees given the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the city and state.
The event website’s FAQ page says masks are “strongly recommended, although not required.”
On Tuesday, the page posted a new requirement in line with the City of New Orleans’ mandate for indoor entertainment venues, saying that anyone 5 years of age and older must provide proof of at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine or negative PCR, molecular or antigen test taken within 72 hours of arrival to the show. Results of at-home tests will not be accepted.
The website also encourages visitors to wash hands frequently, utilize hand sanitizer stations placed throughout the Convention Center, and to “consider replacing hugs and handshakes with the Vulcan salute or an elbow bump.”
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