Historic Vassar Theatre to ask maskless patrons for proof of vaccination

Vassar Theatre's iconic 1930s marquee.
Vassar Theatre's iconic 1930s marquee.(WJRT)
Updated: May. 15, 2021 at 10:30 PM EDT
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VASSAR, Mich. (WJRT) (5/15/2021)--An iconic local movie house, adapting its policies to fit the latest guidance from the CDC and state health department...

The Vassar Theatre will allow vaccinated customers to take in a movie sans the mask, but will be asking for proof. ABC12 sat down with its owner Saturday, as he navigated the changes himself.

“You don’t have to wear the mask. We just ask you to voluntarily show proof of vaccination.”

He means the card vaccine recipients were likely handed after sitting down for that first shot in the arm. That’s because, for now, unless they can show proof, Owner Andreas Fuchs says his number one responsibility is to his staff and patrons, which means keeping them safe when they enter the historic single screen.

“They have our assurance that when they come to the movies, it is an enjoyable time off and you don’t have to worry about anything,” Fuchs said.

Those who refuse or haven’t yet received the vaccine can still go to the movies and take their masks off, but from the door to their seat, the masks have to remain on.

ABC12 has fielded a number of questions from viewers asking whether that kind of request is even legal. We found it is okay in most cases for a business owner to require employees to get the vaccine. It’s also permissible to request proof customers have received it or turn them away, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and legal experts.

The good news: roughly 55-percent of Michigan had been vaccinated as of last week, meeting the first threshold in the state’s reopening plan.

“It’s all a work in progress,” Fuchs related.

Fuchs told ABC12 patrons had been mostly receptive to the updated policy.

“Our guests have been really the biggest supporters,” he said. “It’s the extra couple of inches that are left to go until we’re at the end of the tunnel.”

The requirement, a small, temporary sacrifice, he said, to ensure his doors would stay open and patrons would ultimately get what they want – one step closer to that pre-pandemic silver screen experience.

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