Wedding venues call for state to let them reopen as COVID-19 cases decline

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Posted at 12:24 PM, Feb 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-09 12:24:08-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Grand Rapids Chamber organized a letter last week signed by more than two dozen organizations asking the state to allow wedding venues and banquet centers to open safely immediately.

Currently, these venues are limited to a 10-person threshold, according to a news release Tuesday.

Other instances allow for gatherings of 100 guests at a time.

RELATED: MDHHS issues order reopening indoor dining Feb. 1

“Wedding and banquet venues have a tremendous impact on the economic vitality of our communities and deserve a chance to operate safely,” said Rick Baker, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Chamber. “These businesses support vendors, fill hotels and attract visitors to West Michigan.”

Venue owners point to the need for time to start up and plan events.

“By its nature, our industry requires significant lead time to start up operations to execute events,” said Patti Zylstra, owner of South Haven Creations/Catered Creations Inc. “We are not like a restaurant that can be turned on two weeks out. Events are rescheduling two or more months out so we need a reopening plan with dates; otherwise, we will continue to lose bookings two to three months out.

They also question why venues can’t reopen when other businesses, such as restaurants, have been able to in recent weeks.

“Almost all other sectors of the economy have been afforded the opportunity to return to work in some capacity to support themselves,” said Rob DeVerna, owner of The Lit. “With vaccines being distributed and case number declining, all we ask for is the same opportunity.”

“We have worked hard to adjust to best practices and are ready to adhere to social distancing and other requirements needed to safely serve our guests,” said Kelsi Gaunt, director of operations for the Harris Building. “We just need the opportunity to put these practices into operation.”

Read the full letter from the Grand Rapids Chamber here.