The WSOP, which takes place in the US, finally came to a spectacular conclusion, and the popular event has now moved to another continent. In late November, the first events of the WSOP Europe took place in the Czech Republic, but not all poker fans were excited about the news.
In recent months, a new COVID surge has hit the European continent, forcing governments to come up with radical solutions to stop the spreading of the disease without enforcing another lockdown. According to the latest news reports, many countries now have specific restrictions targeting unvaccinated people – which affects the WSOPE as well.
But what do the new COIVD regulations entail? And how does it affect offline and online poker play? Let's discover the answers to those important questions.
All You Need to Know About COVID, Poker, and Everything in Between
After a few months in which the number of COVID cases across Europe was relatively low, many countries are now experiencing their 4th pandemic wave. That led multiple countries, including the Czech Republic, to come up with new anti-COVID measures.
Since no one wants to go back to full-time lockdowns, governments look for less-severe ways to stop the virus from spreading. Some imposed a partial lockdown, while others banned major gatherings. But the most controversial decision made by a few countries was to use "Green Passes" at workplaces, venues, and sometimes even public transportation.
Only people who have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID in the past six months are able to get the pass. Essentially, that means that unvaccinated people are going on a partial lockdown until further notice. That means they are being denied entrance to major events, including the WSOPE.
According to the BBC, those decisions led to violent riots in multiple countries, including Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, Croatia, and more.
People all across the continent express their displeasure with the situation in various ways. And while some people choose to join demonstrations and hit the streets, others vent their frustrations online. The online poker community has been rallying around European players who weren't able to join the latest WSOPE events due to the new restrictions.
World Series of Poker Europe Goes on Amidst COVID Surge
The Czech Republic, like many other countries, chose to use the "Green Pass" when it comes to gatherings of all sorts. And that includes live poker play! Therefore, unvaccinated players who have been planning to get tested for COVID before joining the events will no longer be able to do so.
At first, the events were supposed to operate similarly to the WSOP in Las Vegas, thus requiring a vaccination confirmation, proof of recovery from COVID, or a negative test result. But the change in national regulations forced the King's Resort – where the events are being hosted – to change their attendance requirements.
The first event started on November 19, and 15 events will take place by December 7. Due to the latest restrictions, the attendance at those events might not be as impressive as anticipated. Some local players will have to stick to playing poker online instead of visiting land-based venues for the time being.
Even though COVID has been around for nearly two years, people are finding it hard to get used to the constant changes in regulations and restrictions. Hopefully, by next year, we will be able to freely choose whether we want to play poker online or offline.