In February 2023 there are no rules in place in England governing public behaviour around Covid. We want to make sure the convention is as accessible and safe as possible for everyone to attend. This Covid policy sets out how we seek to mitigate the risks of disease transmission, and the behaviours we expect from members attending onsite.
We have developed this policy after careful consideration of the experiences of SF, fantasy and games conventions over the past year. When held in specialist conference facilities such as the Birmingham Hilton Metropole, NEC and Novotel Hammersmith, it has been possible for thousands of people to assemble (for example at Dragonmeet and Games Expo), and at smaller conventions (such as Fantasycon), without finding themselves at undue risk.
We are a fully hybrid convention, with most of the programme streamed online and online art show and social spaces for our members. This provides infection-free options to enjoy the convention.
We have taken community views into account while developing this policy. Circumstances may require us to have a more restrictive policy, but we are not intending to relax it further. If you have any questions or feedback, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conversation 2023 recommends, for your own protection, that you follow national guidelines for your own personal circumstances in respect of vaccination against infectious diseases. We will not ask about vaccination status.
Developing symptoms before, during, or after the convention
At the time of writing the NHS advises self-isolation in the case of Covid-19 infection or exposure, if possible. We ask members who develop or have continued symptoms of respiratory or other infections or who have tested positive for Covid not to attend the convention. If you are already at the hotel when symptoms develop, please isolate in your room or return home. You will be able to participate online.
If you do not have any symptoms, please take a Lateral Flow Test (LFT) before leaving home, and do not attend if your test is positive. We will not ask you to show us your test results.
The Birmingham Hilton Metropole
The hotel is large, with wide corridors, large rooms, and spacious public areas. While closed during lockdown an extensive refurbishment programme revamped the hotel’s public spaces (bars and restaurants, and meetings and events facilities) and remodelled more than 600 bedrooms. The refurbishment included upgraded air conditioning and ventilation standards throughout the hotel.
There are multiple bars and restaurants serving food and drink spaced around the hotel which are open to members and the public, and some which are open only to members.
The hotel has more than enough space for our expected membership, and there is no cap on numbers of members attending. Hotel staff and non-member residents who are not subject to our policies will be present in the hotel’s reception areas, corridors, lifts, restrooms, bars and restaurants.
Hand sanitiser points will be located around the hotel.
Please give other people as much space as possible, particularly when moving around the hotel, and when queuing for programme items, registration, and at the bar. People have very different comfort zones; respect other people’s preferences. Please ask before approaching anyone too closely.
We encourage members to mask for the protection of themselves and others as follows.
Remember that some people cannot wear masks for medical and other reasons. We will not enforce masking on anyone attending the convention except in the ‘Mask Required’ lounge, and we ask our members to respect other people’s choices.
Bring masks with you
Please bring masks that you find comfortable to wear with you to Conversation. Standard disposable masks will help to protect other people; masks of FFP2/N95 standard and above will also protect you. Because there are few pharmacies close to the hotel, we will have a limited supply (including lip-reading masks) available.
We will provide disposable and FFP2/N95 standard masks for volunteers and programme participants who wish to use them.
Hotel and convention spaces
For everyone’s protection, we encourage you to wear masks when in public and convention spaces and when not eating and drinking.
Our volunteers and dealers will be spending their time in large, well-ventilated rooms, but will be dealing with many people during the day. They may choose to wear masks themselves. Please wear masks when approaching dealers and volunteers who are there to help you.
Members who wear masks should be aware that some convention members are deaf or hard of hearing and rely on lip-reading. They may not be able to communicate with someone wearing a standard mask.
There will be members of the hotel staff and public in and around the hotel, and the convention cannot insist on people wearing masks on the premises.
We have over a thousand seats in our six programme rooms and we expect members to be able to space themselves and be comfortable.
We encourage you to wear a mask while attending programme items. When rooms are crowded, moderators may ask audiences to space themselves and to wear masks. Some programme items (e.g. dancing, singing, eating, drinking) will be tagged ‘Mask Optional’ and you will not be asked to wear a mask while attending these.
Panellists and presenters are encouraged not to wear masks, so that people watching both onsite and online can see and hear them clearly. Panellists will be well spaced, and there will be a minimum distance of 2 metres between presenters and audience. This isn’t compulsory; please let programme know in advance if you would prefer to wear a mask on your item.
‘Mask Required’ lounge
We are setting aside a room for use only by people wearing masks. Entering this room without a mask on will be a breach of the Code of Conduct.
Conversation 2023 is a hybrid convention. This gives its members every opportunity to enjoy the convention online if unable to attend onsite.
If you have bought a ‘Full Attending’ membership and planned to attend onsite, but for some personal reason are unable to comply with this policy, you may request a refund of your membership by emailing email@example.com. By default Conversation 2023 will refund the difference between your payment and the cost of an Online/Supporting membership on the date you joined, allowing you to join us at the online convention.
If you ask, we will refund your whole payment and you will not have access to the online convention.
Conversation 2023 will not ask for any medical or test details, nor keep any records of any convention member in connection with this policy except to manage a membership refund or a breach of the Code of Conduct.
This policy was updated on 27 March to remove a reference to the NHS Covid Tracing App, which is being taken out of use before the convention.