COVID-19 pandemic causes furry convention closures and delays worldwide
As governments restrict gatherings of people, furry conventions are being postponed or canceled. Here's a quick run down of events in 2020 and their status as of January 3 23:50 EDT (UTC-4) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic - updates to come.
A new section has been added for past events impacted for historical purposes. More information will be added to deal with virtual versions of a physical gathering if applicable starting July 25th.
Links go to statements if available, or to their Twitter feed or site.
Upcoming events - 2021
- Japan Meeting of Furries (Jan 2021) - Cancelled
- Painted Desert Fur Con (Jan 1 - 3) - Indefinitely Postponed
- Further Confusion (Jan 2021) - No Physical Convention
- NordicFuzzCon (Feb 2021) - Postponed, further announcment to be made
- Furry Ski Weekend (Winter 2021) - Canceled
- Anthro New England (Feb 2021) - Canceled
- FurSquared (Feb 2021) - Virtual Only
- Blue Ridge Furfare (March 2021) - Virtual Only.
- FurTheMore (March 5-7 2021) - Virtual Only.
- Texas Furry Fiesta 2021 (March 25-28) - Online Only
- Furnal Equinox 2021 (March) - Online Only
- FA:United - Permanent Closure
Past events - 2020
- Blue Ridge Furfare (March 11-14) - Held
- Furnal Equinox (March 20-22) - Canceled
- Thaitails (March 21-22) - Postponed to August 29-30, but then cancelled (first event to take action)
- Otterdance (March 29) - Postponed, dates under discussion
- Furnexion (March 27-29) - Postponed to the second half of 2020 (as of March 16), then to February 26-28, 2021 (as of June 26)
- Gateway Furmeet (March 27-29) - Canceled
- Woods Flock (April 3-5) - Cancelled - Hosting venue closed due to the outbreak.
- Golden State Fur Con (April 3-5) - Postponed to August 28-30, but later was cancelled; next to be held April 9-11, 2021
- Motor City Furry Con (April 3-5) - Canceled (was previously postponed) (as of May 1)
- Just Fur the Weekend (April 10-12) - Cancelled after social events ban; "partial" refunds offered for those not wanting a voucher for April 2-4, 2021
- Fauntastic (April 10-13) - Moved to May 29-June 1, or 2021 if that fails (France banned events of 100+)
- Wild Nights Oklahoma (April 23-28) - Postponed to 2021 (as of March 23)
- Furry Weekend Holland (April 30-May 4) - Canceled for 2020, reg rolled over to April 16-19, 2021
- FurDU (May 1-3) - Canceled for 2020, reg rolled over to May 7-9, 2021
- WUFF (May 5-9) - Canceled for 2020, reg and hotel rolled over to 2021; refunds must be requested by April 1
- Furry Weekend Atlanta (May 7-11) - Canceled for 2020 (as of March 16)
- Mephit Mini Con (May 21-24) - Canceled for 2020 (as of March 20)
- ConFuzzled (May 22-26) - Canceled for 2020, to occur next in May 2021 (as of March 24)
- Furlandia (May 22-24) - Cancelled for 2020 (as of April 15)
- ZodiaCon (May 27-31) - Cancelled for 2020 (as of April 11)
- AnthrOhio (May 28-31) - Caneled for 2020 (on April 9)
- Argentina FurFiesta (May 29-31) - Canceled for 2020 due to the closure of hosting hotel (as of April 23)
- Furizon (May 29-June 2) - Canceled (as of April 22)
- CityFur (June 5-7) - Cancelled
- Fauntastic (June 6) - Canceled for 2020 (as of May 3)
- Furrymosa (June 18-21)- Cancelled (as of April 11)
- Fur-Eh! (June 18-21) - Cancelled (as of April 23)
- CastleCon (June 19-21) - Cancelled (as of May 14)
- LakeSide Furs (June 27-July 2) - Canceled for 2020 (as of April 19)
- South Afrifur (Late June) - Canceled for 2020 (as of April 15)
- FurryEST (July 2-5) - Cancelled.
- Anthrocon (July 2-5) - Cancelled (as of April 27); a new policy gives two weeks to refund or donate reg if they cancel, or a rollover to March 25, 2021
- Little Island Furcon (July 4-5) - Cancelled, next held March 13-14, 2021
- EAST (July 15-19) - Cancelled for 2020 (though hotel rooms still available and some will be there), moved to July 14-18, 2021
- Furry Siesta (July 16-19) - Cancelled
- Furway - Cancelled (as of April 16)
- Anthro Weekend Utah (July 17-19) - Cancelled (as of May 7); had to decide if refund desired by May 22 or registration was rolled over to 2021
- FurCan (July 18-19) - Cancelled (as of May 22)
- SpokAnthro (July 24-26) - Cancelled (as of May 11); registration rolled over to 2021 unless donated or refund requested by June 11
- Cabincon (July 25) - Cancelled
- PAWAI (July 25-26) - Canceled (as of May 16)
- Furry Oasis Party (July 25-26) - Cancelled
- Brazil FurFest (July 31-August 2) - Canceled (as of May 15)
- CanFURence (July 31-August 2) - Cancelled
- Camp Fire Tails (July 30-August 3) - Cancelled.
- Baltifur (August 6-9) - Cancelled
- Furtastic (August 2-5) - Cancelled
- Wild Prairie Furcon (August 7-9) - Canceled for 2020 (as of May 1)
- DenFur (August 7-9) - Canceled
- Futerkon - Held
- Camp Tiny Paws (August 14-16) - Canceled for 2020 (as of April 28)
- Furrydelphia (August 14-16) - Canceled
- Eurofurence (August 19-23) - Canceled for 2020 (as of April 30); launched a charity fundraiser (March 28)
- Rusfurence (August 19-23) - Canceled for 2021
- Megaplex 2020 (August 21-23) - Cancelled for 2020 (as of May 12)
- FursonaCon (August 27-30) - Cancelled for 2020, to be held September 9-12, 2021
- Camp Feral! (August 27-31) - Cancelled for 2020
- IndyFurCon (August 28-30) - Cancelled in 2020 (announced May 26)
- FurryPinas (third-quarter 2020) - Was originally May 9-10, however is now fully cancelled for 2020 (as of March 19)
- Mephit Fur Meet (September 4-6) - Cancelled for 2020 (as of May 12)
- Tails and Tornadoes (September 4-6) - Cancelled for 2020 (as of May 19)
- Furvana (September 11-13) - Cancelled, but will be holding an online event.
- Furry Migration (September 18-20) - Cancelled for 2020, postponed to September 10-12, 2021
- WA Fur Frenzy (September 25-27) - Cancelled
- Wild North (September 25-28) - Cancelled for 2020, roll over to 24-27 September 2021; refunds to be claimed by end of July 26, else in 2021
- H-Con (September 30-October 4) - No change (as of June 14); hoping for easing of lockdown at the end of July
- Furrnion (typically October) - Deferred to 2021 before even announcing dates
- AquatiFur (October 2-4) - Cancelled (as of July 17)
- Bewiskered (October 2-4) - Cancelled
- Confuror (October 9-11) - Cancelled (as of July 17)
- Pennsylvania Anthropomorphics West (October 9-11) - Cancelled
- FinFur Animus (October 15-18) - Cancelled
- Fur Reality (October 23-25) - Canceled.
- Confurtiva (July 31-August 2) - Postponed to Nov 20-22. Looks to be Virtual Only now
- Golden Leaves Con (October 28-November 1) - Cancelled
- Alamo City Furry Invasion (October 30-November 1) - Cancelled for 2020 (as of July 1), to be held October 8-10, 2021
- InFurnity (October 30-November 1) - Canceled
- Furpocolypse (October 30-November 1) - Cancelled, Virtual Event Only
- PAWCon (October 30-November 2) - Cancelled for 2020 (as of May 27); previously attempted to move to an earlier date of August 20 when Biggest Little Fur Con moved to its weekend
- Biggest Little Fur Con (October 29 - Nov 1) - Cancelled for 2020. Was originally April 30-May 3 and moved on March 14 to the fall before cancellation occured.
- Furcation (November 6-9) - Cancelled
- Flüüfff (November 11-15) - Canceled. (as of Aug 10)
- Anthro Northwest (November 19-22) - Canceled.
- Furry Summer Mexico (now November 21-22) - Postponed from July 25-26 as of May 10; details (in Spanish) at link
- FurCamp Cordobés (November 27-29) - Cancelled due to closure of their venue
- MidWest Furfest (December 4 - 6th) - Canceled for 2020, Dates for 2021 December announced (as of July 15). Virtual events to be held December 18th to 20th.
- FURUM (December 12-13) - Canceled (as of May 15)
- Furvester (Dec 30 - Jan 3rd) - Cancelled
- New Year's Fur Bowl (Dec 31 - Jan 1st) - Virtual Only
Per-event details (may be outdated, see above)
Thailand-based Thaitails, originally set for 21-22 March, attempted to address concerns by offering screening, sanitization and a refund, but on March 5 the event was postponed to 29-30 August; staff said their hotel had been "sympathetic and generous to our convention". It was canceled at the end of May.
Then came Furnal Equinox. Just this Wednesday, the convention was still going ahead, having given a warning about Covid-19 two weeks ago. The next day, they admitted that financial considerations were playing a part in their decision:
As it currently stands, we have committed to business contracts with multiple vendors that have very specific cancellation terms, much like other conventions have. These terms are intended to protect both Furnal Equinox and our business partners, but breaking these contracts at this late date would put our organization into bankruptcy, threatening any future events (either delayed or for future years).
We recognize that other organizations and businesses have taken different steps, but they are in a more secure position to do so. We’re a small organization that took in just over $150,000 last year, and don’t have that same security.
The day after, the convention was cancelled, with registrations rolled over to 2021 - although they did offer refunds, as well as a plea that attendees donate this year's registration to cover the event's costs.
If you can make the new date of Oct 29 - Nov 1, the only action you need to take is to alter your travel plans. Hotel and registration will be taken care of automatically. [...] If you can’t make the new dates, you may use your confirmation email to cancel [...] Likewise, your convention registration is fully refundable. [...] We understand other conventions and events are already scheduled around the same time as BLFC 2020’s new Oct 29-Nov 1 dates. If you were planning on attending one of these other events and our new schedule poses a conflict, please attend that other event!
In the UK, attempts are being made to defer the peak to 10-14 weeks in the future - or May 22, the first day of ConFuzzled 2020. It's usually packed, and some commentators have already pointed out risks:
Every year [...] Confuzzled [...] has a giant cookie [in the main hotel's lobby] that people break apart and eat despite it being a decoration.
[Note: This isn't a current issue; as of 2019, the cookie was cut after display and served from hotel food stands in return for a charity donation.]
In response, ConFuzzled put out a directors' statement on March 5, followed by a flash update last Thursday. But with expectations of a ban on large events as soon as next weekend, the situation remains fluid. On March 15, they laid out the possibility out in more detail, hinting that there might be more government guidance on March 17 - and that, unlike BLFC, postponing to later in the year (especially much later) might not be feasible.
Whilst postponement to later in the year might seem like the easiest solution, we need to consider things like both venues having the space available or suppliers availability aligning with our new dates. Additionally, we would need to consider the stress this would put on our team of volunteers who would effectively be delivering 2 conventions within a 6-7 month time window when taking into account next year’s event. [...]
Whilst we are of course insured for ConFuzzled, there are specific sets of criteria that must be satisfied in each given situation to invoke this process. Currently, owing to the HM Government’s position to not ban mass gatherings as an example, we cannot take the business decision to cancel the convention without there being heavy financial penalties that would jeopardize the future of the event.
The story was similar on March 20 – as while restaurants were closed as of Friday night, hotels were not.
The difficult reality ConFuzzled is faced with is a set of different scenarios that if played out, could mean no more ConFuzzled events in future.
The Directors have a legal obligation to secure the future of ConFuzzled, but also have a moral and ethical obligation to the safety and wellbeing of our attendees and team alike. We want to do everything within our power to ensure we do right by you, the attendee, whilst trying to ensure at the same time we can guarantee the survival of ConFuzzled. [... We] have written to the Government directly for clarification.
So even though it's a government mandated shutdown, your insurance doesnt cover you for this like other events have been? because sorry, something about this does not feel right, and I am extremely uncomfortable with this much money sat in limbo when I'm on disability as is.
— Grumpy Wolf ❤️ 18+ Only (@XanderShadows) March 30, 2020
Sooner still on April 10-12 was smaller UK event Just Fur The Weekend. As of March 6, they also had no plans to cancel, and they followed up on March 15 with a note on precautions they intend to take – and a now-familiar explanation of the cost of cancelling unilaterally. Their message: Don't Panic. Since then, social gatherings have been banned in the UK, and JFTW discussed an "acceptable resolution" with the venue.
This turned out to be a transfer to April 2-4, 2021, with the convention issuing vouchers for registration, hotel rooms and dealers' tables which can be traded or sold. The bad news: being so close to the con, they and the hotel had already incurred expenses, so don't have the money to refund those who don't want to go - and say they will probably only be able to offer partial refunds even after the 2021 event.
…anyone seeking a refund by fully cancelling their voucher will need to wait until additional registration funds for the 2021 JFTW are received and additional expenses paid for. After JFTW 2021, any funds left will be earmarked for pending refunds. They’re likely to only receive a partial refund at best. This is why selling a voucher directly to another attendee is the best way to get the full value of your purchase back. The hotel will honor that voucher without any additional overhead, any additional margin, etc. That kind of direct 1-for-1 transfer is best for all involved.
The need to discuss was shared by ConFuzzled, which was swiftly followed by cancellation of its convention for 2020, staff not feeling it a good idea to try to run two conventions in much less than a year.
LondonFurs staff also announced that, with the closure of public bars, pubs and restaurants, their meets, held every three weeks, were postponed until further notice. While its venue has now reopened, groups are limited to six, so meets continue on Discord instead. The summer weekender previously scheduled for July 17 this year has been postponed to an as-yet unannounced date (as of June 27)
On the other side of the world, Furry Down Under (or FurDU) will not be held in Surfers Paradise - at least, not in 2020:
Unfortunately due to the new laws banning gatherings over 500 people, and our concern for attendees health, FurDU will be postponed [...] Our new dates will be Friday 7th – Sunday 9th of May, 2021.
We will be offering refunds of course but we will also allow those who already have rego to keep them for next years con, this will give you a guaranteed spot, current dealers will also keep their table in the Den if they take up this option.
Those responding on Twitter seemed to feel it was the right call – perhaps aided by the government's decree. This was also the approximate reason for Furnexion's deferment to the second half of 2020: their guests of honor could not attend Mexico from the USA. As the con was to be held March 27-29, attendee materials had already been paid for, so "unfurtunately" a refund could not be given. The event was subsequently moved to February 26-28, 2021 in June.
Furry Weekend Atlanta, furry fandom's fourth largest convention by attendance (just after BLFC), announced on March 15 that Atlanta's 30-day event ban, CDC advice to cancel events of 50+ in the next two months, and the emergency return of Georgia's legislature "will have an effect on FWA 2020". The following night, they announced the cancellation of FWA 2020. Many asked about refunds, not being able to justify "donating" sums which could be $350 per person, and in some cases not wanting a transfer to 2021 (if that's available); staff say they are "working diligently to determine options". Hotel room deposits are to be automatically refunded.
At around the same time, Golden State Fur Con announced a postponement to August 28-30, with registration transferred but hotels needing to be rebooked; those not wishing to attend could instead transfer to 2021 or another Corgi Events con - or failing that, get a refund.
In Asia, Indonesian convention PAWAI is still monitoring the situation, and expects to be able to make a decision by early June. But for FurryPinas, early May is too close, and they're looking to reschedule for the third quarter of the year.
Back in Europe, Czech convention ZodiaCon was hoping to go ahead as of March 10, despite a nationwide prohibition against events of 100+ people - and later 30+. However, given the uncertainty, they are no longer requiring immediate payment, and are offering refunds to those who cannot travel; a final decision will be made by May 15. Similarly, Germany's Mephit Mini Con intended to proceed as of March 14, but on March 20 it was called off for 2020.
AnthrOhio is working through its options, given that "canceling or postponing an event comes with many costs that are hard for a non-profit to absorb" - as of April 1, they "are still cautiously optimistic that we will have our event as scheduled". But Furlandia (scheduled for a week before AnthrOhio) closed pre-registration on the same day, and are talking with their venue, after previously saying they had "a deadline for deciding on this". Between these dates, Argentina FurFiesta warned attendees to follow a nationwide quarantine from March 20-31.
Italy's Furizon "do not believe that there is any reason to talk about postponement or cancellation" but are "closely [following] the development" (as of March 23) – the region has been in a lockdown since late February, expected to last until at least Easter (April 12).
Anthrocon has stated actions they may take, including restricting attendance from areas where the virus is rampant, requesting that ill people stay home and everyone refrain from hugging, providing hand sanitizer, and postponing or cancelling in the event of "advice" from health authorities. On March 25, they rolled out an addendum to their refund policy - registration may be donated or refunded (optionally, without transaction fees to help AC cover the cost) or deferred to 2021. In the event of cancellation - and the venue's prior conference has been - attendees have two weeks to pick, or be deferred.
Norway's Furway, scheduled for mid-July, is still on but there is "a definite possibility" of it being cancelled - a decision is to be made in early-to-mid May.
Euforufence says it is "too early to speculate" while "the current system is highly dynamic"; as of March 13, they expect their August event to happen. However, they are fundraising for their charity, whose income has dried up due to the lockdown.
Wild North was likewise still going ahead "as it is still six months away, and a lot can happen in that time"; however, on July 5 it was moved to 25-27 September 2021 And Spanish convention Furrnion, traditionally held around October, will be deferring to 2021.
Midwest FurFest, while noting their main hotel cancelled two months of events, "do not expect this to impact Midwest FurFest 2020 [as of March 19]". As of July 15th, they have cancelled for the year 2020 and will be waiting until next year.
What is COVID-19?
In Wuhan, China late 2019 a new viral menace emerged from local butchery markets, called "wet markets". While the practice had been curtailed after previous outbreaks, the Chinese government had turned a blind eye to these market's continued growth. This increased demand in local agriculture and loosened regulation may have been exasperated from the strain when China and Trump started a trade war in 2018 cut American food imports into the country. Now all the market gains since that trade war began have been whipped clean in a matter of weeks, and then some. But regardless of who started the trade war, it finishes now with a war for the health of the human race. In the petri dish of animal blood of those markets in Wuhan, spawned the infamous "Novel Coronovirus"; the disease it causes being termed COVID-19.
After disrupting the economy of China the virus has quickly spread in our interconnected world. As cases started showing up in the United States in late February, the spread continued into early March. At that time the United States declared travel restrictions with allied countries, including most of Europe, hoping to mitigate its import from overseas. However this microscopic immigrant had already made itself at home; Ohio leadership estimated there could be 100,000 infected in the state. Food, toilet paper, and sanitizer has flown off of store shelves as people prepare to hunker down.
So what makes people worried about this particular strain? The mortality rate is around two to three percent with a upward distribution tending more fatal with older age. Of course those with compromised respiratory or immune systems also face an escalated risk of death. This is combined with it being a disease that can be passed before symptoms appear.