Years of tight COVID-related restrictions on public gatherings, and those restrictions’ subsequent loosening as of late, have proven to be controversial and divisive decisions, and it seems no community is immune to the battle.
As of late, that includes a community united over their love of dressing as cuddly, anthropomorphic avatars, outfits that they say help to unlock their true inner selves.
Yes, the fight over COVID precautions has infected the “furry” community.
The latest “ground zero” in the pandemic argument is Furry Weekend Atlanta (FWA), a gathering for those in the furry community to meet in person, sometimes in expensive and elaborate costumes that reflect their “fursonas.”
FWA announced on March 12 that they would be eliminating requirements that attendees be either fully boosted with COVID vaccinations or submit a negative COVID test in order to enter the convention. The reason they cite is a financial one: Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests, considered the more effective COVID tests can cost between $100-200.
Federal funding for everything related to the COVID emergency is set to cease on May 11 – the first day of the convention – and FWA believes requiring the tests would price many people out of attending.
While they are continuing to advise vaccination, the convention will not limit attendance solely to those who are vaccinated, a decision that they say came after a week “debating, shedding tears and hugging it out,” according to the official statement.
Reaction to the lifting of restrictions has been as mixed among furries on social media as any other segment of the population. Some are applauding the decision and even mocking those who are upset for potential attendees who may be immunocompromised, saying the convention should not have been catering to them in the first place.
As for dissenters, some believe that the previous COVID vaccination policy could have remained in place, even if the shots do lose effectiveness over time.
Furry Weekend Atlanta takes place May 11-14.