Could entertainment venues require vaccine passports in the future?

COVID-19 Vaccine

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As more people get a COVID-19 shot, there are still questions about the possibility of a so-called vaccine passport in the future. 

Vaccine passports, or vaccine certificates, are documents that show you were vaccinated against COVID-19 or recently tested negative for the virus. The certificates are still being developed, and how and whether they will be used could vary widely around the world. 

Officials with the Kent County Health Department say this type of policy decision would not come from local health departments, but instead from the state or federal government.

A spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services tells News 8 that there are “no plans to mandate the vaccine at the state level.” She however could not speak to whether school districts, businesses, and local municipalities would be able to make their own decisions about requiring the vaccines.

These types of conversations are already being had among some venue staff in West Michigan. 

“Unfortunately, COVID has caused us to have all kinds of conversations that we never thought we would have and some of them have turned into practices, some of them have not,” said Richard MacKeigan, regional general manager for Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place. 

Although MacKeigan said it has been a topic of discussion between himself and his peers, he doesn’t think it’s going to be anything that the venues themselves would require. 

“I think it is more likely that perhaps a health department might require, or a state might require, but I think more likely if it becomes a reality, it might be something that a touring artist might require, or a promoter might require. I think most likely it’s going to be a professional league — an NBA or an NHL. Then if that were to happen, then I could see many venues falling following suit,” he explained. 

Right now, it’s almost impossible to know for sure, but if something does come of this, MacKeigan believes it would start on a case-by-case basis and could eventually become more commonplace. As for the venues themselves, he is optimistic about the future.

“The calendars at the arena and DeVos Performance Hall are jam-packed and that really is another assurance to me that my reason for optimism is warranted. It’s an assurance that the agents, the artists, the managers, they want to get back, back out and work.”

As more people fill the venues in the future, MacKeigan said there are several new protocols that will help people feel return to a comfortable and safe environment, including contactless entries, bathrooms and sales, as well as a new air treatment system at the convention center, the theater, and the arena. 

“We now have a safer environment in our venues for the entertainers, athletes, guests and employees.”

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