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Detroit chamber to hold in-person policy conference requiring vaccination

The Detroit News

The Detroit Regional Chamber said Thursday it will hold its Mackinac Policy Conference in September as scheduled as an in-person event, but will require attendees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The chamber's conference appears to be the first major event in Michigan that will require vaccination for participation. The Detroit chamber said it is exploring using a third-party technology partner to help verify the vaccination status of participants.

Total attendance at the Mackinac Island conference will be limited to 1,300 attendees — an about 30% reduction to ensure a lower density of people in the hotel, according to the Detroit chamber.

The conference is a major gathering for state lawmakers, the governor's office, business officials and other elected officials to share ideas. The Detroit chamber also used it during the Republican Snyder administration to try to set policy and other priorities for the coming year.  

Then-House Minority Leader Christine Greig, D-Farmington Hills, discusses Michigan's future at the May 2019 Detroit Regional Chamber's Mackinac Policy Conference, the last time the chamber held the event before COVID-19 hit.

“The chamber takes its responsibility hosting Michigan’s top leadership seriously,” said Sandy Baruah, president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “The Mackinac Policy Conference will be among the first large high-profile events to occur as restrictions ease, and the Chamber as a business organization, has the responsibility to handle the event properly.”

Attendees won't be required to wear masks, but the chamber is asking that participants carry masks with them for use on the ferry to and from the island. Mask wearing is optional and won't be discouraged as an extra level of protection against COVID-19.(

The Sept. 20-23 conference on Mackinac Island is set to follow health safety guidelines — formed with the advice of the Henry Ford Health System and others — that are stricter than existing protocols as a matter of caution, the chamber said in a statement. The chamber said it was doing so since it and the Grand Hotel, where the conference is being held, are private entities.

The safety provisions could change "as public health conditions and official guidance evolve," the chamber said.

The chamber is closing registration at the end of this month and will create a waiting list for those still interested in attending.