DETROIT, Mich. — As a major step toward combating the spread of delta variant of COVID-19, we’re learning of tougher restrictions some businesses in southeast Michigan are now imposing.
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The Michigan Theater in downtown Ann Arbor first opened its doors in January 1928. As part of their evolution, they say it’s now time to take the next step in COVID safety.
"We want people to be honest with us. You can show your proof of vaccination on your phone. If you don’t have a vaccination, you can get a COVID test and show that,” said Russell Collins, executive director of the Michigan Theater.
As executive director of both the State and Michigan Theaters, Russell has a deep love of performing arts and film. Running a staple in the community, he says the decision to require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test beginning Friday comes down to health, safety, and an old-fashioned respect for one another.
"It is a strange time. The last year and a half has been a strange time and so you’re trying to do the right thing,” said Collins.
Among the first businesses in metro Detroit to make this move, the historic theaters are taking after what’s become a larger movement in places like New York and California.
The businesses acknowledge some others in the metro area already have similar policies, and not everyone agrees with them. On the streets of Ann Arbor, residents say we can expect to see more policies.
“I think everyone is going to do it. Now, with Pfizer getting full FDA approval, there’s going to be mandates all over for sure,” said one visitor.
While encouraging vaccination, the State of Michigan says a mandate is not going to happen. Here in this thriving college town, a council member in support of what the theaters are doing adds only the county health dept. has authority to actually impose requirements on businesses and their customers.
“I will say I would as a member of the council, I would fully support the county if they decided to take that step,” said Jen Eyer, Ann Arbor City Councilmember.
Beaumont Health is also weighing in on proof of vaccination requirements.
"We’re going to see a number of places do that and people who patronize those places will be those who believe in it. The people who don’t believe in it will go to other places," said Dr. Matthew Sims, director of Infectious Disease Research Beaumont Health.
As far as distancing, at both the State and Michigan Theaters, separate parties are also asked to remain at least one seat apart for extra safety.
To read more about their COVID-19 policy, click here.