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The Detroit Regional Chamber has canceled its Mackinac Policy Conference and other events that attract large groups of people for the remainder of the year because of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The loss of the annual policy conference is another economic blow to Mackinac Island, whose tourism season had been delayed until June because of COVID-19. The Grand Hotel, which holds the conference, is closed until June 21.

"Without question, the Mackinac Policy Conference is an important annual event for the island and island businesses — from hotel stays to the countless events hosted throughout the week for conference attendees," Tim Hugh, Mackinac Island Tourism executive director, said in a statement. 

"While we are disappointed by this cancellation and others, we are confident that our resilient business community will recover many bookings, reservations and events during the week of August 10 — a beautiful time to visit the island for an unforgettable summer experience."

The chamber previously had postponed the conference to August from late May, but decided it was best to cancel in-person events with 50 or more people after reviewing federal recommendations and hearing input from members. Programming with Leadership Detroit, which educates and trains Southeast Michigan leaders, also has been canceled until next year.

“It has become clear that ‘social distancing’ will be with us for a while," Sandy Baruah, the chamber's CEO, said in a statement. "And if there’s one thing the Mackinac Policy Conference, Leadership Detroit, and many of our events have never been and could never be, it’s socially distant."

In place of the policy conference, the chamber will offer a digital series in late summer that will include discussions among state and national leaders representing business, media, philanthropy and government. The conversations will focus on Michigan's response to the pandemic, economic recovery, racial injustice and equity and the 2020 election. Other digital programming will be offered, too.

The 2020-21 State of the Region, State of Education, and the MICHauto Summit will be moved to 2021 as traditional in-person events.

bnoble@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble

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