On Sunday, November 15, Department of Health and Human Services director Robert Gordon issued a new epidemic order tightening restrictions on indoor activities in an effort to curtail a worrying rise in COVID-19 cases, outbreaks, hospitalizations, and deaths in Michigan.
Gordon’s newest order requires sweeping shutdowns of gathering spaces like bingo halls, casinos, gyms for group activities, theaters, schools and universities, and restaurants for indoor dining. Outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery continue to be permitted under the order, which takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, November 18. The order lasts for three weeks.
The order came after stern warnings from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Doctor Joneigh Khaldun on Thursday, November 12, suggesting that new shutdowns were imminent. It gives a period of two days for restaurants and bars to adjust their services. The financial and labor pressures of losing indoor seating will make it even tougher for many establishments to make it through winter.
The industry’s social media reaction buzzed with takes on Sunday evening after new rules were announced, with some establishments like Ernie’s Market in Oak Park announcing they would be temporarily closing. Others, such as Mabel Gray in Hazel Park and Bobcat Bonnie’s reminded customers that outdoor seating options would still be available for those looking to go out to eat. Service industry workers will likely bear the brunt of the pain from the new order as hours and jobs will likely be cut by some businesses to suit the changing situation. At the same time, many workers who were already facing long term unemployment have been left wondering for months if their benefits will be extended and if the federal government will pass another stimulus package.
Last week, Michigan charted its worst week yet in the entire pandemic. Many establishments including Detroit Street Filling Station in Ann Arbor, Michigan & Trumbull in Corktown, and the Old Miami in Cass Corridor had already preemptively returned to takeout-only service or closed all together. Going into the Thanksgiving holiday, many health officials are begging families to avoid gathering with people outside of their households.
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