Dear Governor Whitmer:
With the vaccine rollout well underway in Michigan, it’s time to set a date when we can welcome indoor meetings, conventions, and events back to the Great Lakes State and reclaim billions in revenue lost to the pandemic.
We urge you to reopen our indoor meeting, convention, and event space:
- By June 1 at 50% capacity
- By July 1 at 75% capacity
This schedule is well-aligned with President Biden’s priorities, projections, and promises as they relate to the vaccine. We commend the President for making the vaccine a top priority. We have confidence in his projection that we will have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May. And we celebrate with him as he looks toward the 4th of July as a day when we can begin to mark our independence from this virus.
We trust science. We also trust our State and local public health officials to leverage national priorities and get shots in the arms of all residents age 16 and up this spring. To this end, we applaud the collaborative efforts by our health departments, health systems, and venue operators to transform convention centers and arenas into mass vaccination clinics that have safely and efficiently handled the high volume of vaccinations made possible by ramped up production and new government contracts.
These are bold and decisive steps toward mitigating this health crisis. Now, let’s take a similarly bold step and align our timeline for reopening this industry that is vital to our state and local economies.
In support of a reopening – and to protect lives and livelihoods – we join you in advocating that ALL adults in Michigan, including our employees, colleagues, constituents, member organizations, vendors, and clients, get a vaccine as soon as possible. This is the clearest path to reopening.
Our meeting, convention, and event industry have been devastated by the pandemic. It was one of the first hits and remains among the most tightly restricted and deeply impacted. Tens of thousands of Michigan hotel, food service, and venue workers lost their jobs. In fact, 38% of all jobs lost nationwide because of the pandemic were in the hospitality, entertainment, and travel sector. No other industry and labor force has been hit harder.
With capacity limits at 25, many venues remain effectively shuttered and thousands remain out of work. The irony is this industry is among the best equipped to ensure safety protocols are in place. Inherent in the successful operation of our event venues is crowd control, security, and safety practices. We are positioned to support contact tracing among meeting attendees. And we are open to exploring ways to partner with the State to employ antigen testing for meeting, convention, and event guests as we begin to reopen.
It’s time to establish parity with Michigan restaurants and other businesses already at 50% or higher capacity and bring Michigan in line with neighboring Great Lakes States. Our industry needs a reasonable timetable so we can confirm bookings, rehire and train staff and begin the process of reclaiming Michigan’s leadership position in the meeting and event industry.
We ask for your trust in the people and businesses of Michigan. Align policy with the promises of our President and of the vaccine. Trust our meeting, convention, and event venues to live up to the Pure Michigan brand that they helped build and allow them to responsibly reopen their doors – and the door to this great state.
Thank you for your consideration and for your leadership.