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Mackinac Policy Conference drops vaccine requirement, will allow PCR test

Crain’s Detroit Business 
Apr. 19, 2022
Nick Manes

The Detroit Regional Chamber is dropping a requirement that attendees at its flagship business and political conference prove vaccination for COVID-19.

The chamber on Tuesday announced that attendees at this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference, held at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in late May, will be “required to have a full COVID-19 vaccination or submit a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 72-hours prior to the attendee’s arrival at the Conference Registration Desk inside Grand Hotel,” the chamber said in a statement.

The second option is a change from last year’s conference, where vaccination was required. Detroit chamber CEO Sandy Baruah billed that event, the first since the pandemic began in 2020, as “the most safe and protocol-intensive large event in Michigan since this pandemic started.”

COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations have dropped dramatically, more than 90 percent, from their January peak at the top of the omicron wave.

The protocols for this year’s event, now back to being held during its normal time just after the Memorial Day weekend, are a “collaborative effort” by Baruah and Conference Chair Arn Tellem, vice chairman of Pistons Sports and Entertainment.

The protocols also include “input and strong support from the Conference’s CEO Advisory Council, the Chamber’s Board of Directors Executive Committee, the Chamber’s full Board of Directors, health professionals, and key Conference sponsors,” according to the release.

The conference will again use the CLEAR Health Pass app for attendees to either confirm their proof of vaccination or submit PCR testing results. Attendees can begin confirming their vaccine status on the app this week.

Also like last year, capacity for the four-day event will be capped at 1,300 attendees, about 30 percent lower than the 2019 conference. Just over 1,000 people attended last year’s event, held in September.

Among those who skipped the 2021 conference due to the requirement to prove vaccination was Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey.

“Many other safety precautions used at the 2021 Conference will remain in place for 2022. The Chamber, in collaboration with its advisors, will continue to monitor COVID-19 case counts across the country and in our state,” according to the Chamber’s statement. “Additional protocols may be necessary to ensure safety. The Chamber will communicate any changes to the Conference experience as needed.”

The chamber also announced that on the afternoon of Thursday, June 2, the day before the conference concludes, the chamber and the Michigan Republican Party will hold a Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Debate, as well as two receptions that evening, according to the chamber release.

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