MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich — For weeks, Michigan restaurants have been allowed to offer indoor dining at 50% capacity. Now the Muskegon Lakshore Chamber of Commerce is asking Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to allow the operators of event, meeting, banquet facilities to have the same opportunity.
Muskegon Lakshore Chamber of Commerce President Cindy Larsen made that request to chamber members by e-mail Friday.
Even open at 50% capacity, Larsen believes indoor event spaces would provide a boost to Muskegon's tourism economy especially now that summer is over.
"That alone would would have a huge impact on our economy," Larsen said. "There's such a pent up demand for meetings of all sizes, it would begin immediately and we would see the economic impact right a way."
According to Larsen's e-mail to members Michigan is the second most restricted state in the country for meetings and banquet events. Right now those spaces are limited to no more than 10 people indoors and 100 people outside.
"This is huge for our tourism community because they serve the meeting market," Larsen said.
Jon Rooks, owner of Parkland Properties in Muskegon had 40 wedding events canceled in 2020 because of the restrictions on indoor gatherings. Rooks' properties include the Delta by Marriott and Shoreline Inn, both with multiple banquet rooms and meeting spaces.
"The big business that we've lost is the corporate business because we simply can't have more than 10 people," Rooks said. "And we have rooms that hold 100 people, 200 people, 500 people, and we can't use them, they're empty."
Rooks also supports the push for banquet and meeting spaces to open under the same conditions that allowed restaurants to offer indoor dining.
"We can't even have 11 people in our 500 capacity room," Rooks said. "We need that restaurant rule to be extended to the event spaces."
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