GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A local concert venue will require proof of vaccination for some of its upcoming shows making it one of the first businesses to do so in West Michigan.
The Pyramid Scheme says in order to attend Get Sad: Another Emo Night on August 14, Lokella on August 20, and Mustard Plug on August 27, attendees must show their COVID-19 vaccination card or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the event.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Tami VanderBerg, co-owner.
VanderBerg called the decision intense. She says in recent weeks the promoters and bands for the performances approached The Pyramid Scheme worried about the Delta variant and wanted to keep people safe.
“Many of these artists have lost over a year’s pay, over a year of their livelihood, just like venues have, just like lots of small businesses have, and they have to be in these rooms,” said VanderBerg. “They’re in here, they’re singing, they’re breathing, they’re blowing horns, and they don’t want to have to miss any of their other shows due to potential exposure.”
Paper or pictured copies of either vaccine cards or negative tests will be accepted.
According to VanderBerg sales increased when they notified ticket holders last week. Refunds will be issued to anyone who does not want to comply.
For now, VanderBerg says the policy will be an event-by-event basis, but is open to making it a requirement for all events.
“We want to pilot it and see how it goes, how people react, and then see what the feedback is,” said VanderBerg. “It’s scary getting out there in front and being, you know, whoever is first is just going to get hit the hardest in terms of all the critiques… maybe see if there are other groups that are interested as well. There’s power in numbers in terms of diffusing some of the frustration and anger of the folks that disagree with what you’re doing.”
Legal experts says businesses are allowed to ask for proof of vaccination.
“They’d [businesses] be in a stronger position to make a constitutional argument than the people who are not vaccinated who don’t want to comply with the private businesses,” said Brendan Beery, a constitutional law professor at WMU Cooley Law School.
Beery says only the government can violate constitutional rights, not private parties. Furthermore he says, there are no Michigan state laws that prohibit businesses from asking people for their vaccination status.
“You’re not the only person with rights, other people have rights too,” said Beery. “You do not have a right to do a lot of other things, like drive under the influence or exceed the speed limit. There are lots of things that we can’t do because either they’re against state law or because they interfere with the exercise of somebody else’s rights.”