Update: Executive order 2020-69 closing restaurants and bars for dine-in service was extended through June 12 in Executive Order 2020-100.
Concluding a chaotic day at the capitol in Lansing, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reauthorized Michigan’s state of emergency and extended the dine-in closure for restaurants, bars, casinos, theaters, and places like gyms through Thursday, May 28.
Restaurants may continue to offer carryout and delivery service as well as window service, walk-up service, drive-through service, and drive up service, according to the order. Restaurants and other public places that fall under the order are encouraged to offer service in those ways while also taking additional precautions to manage social distance and make sure customers and staff are wearing a face covering. Up to five people are allowed inside restaurants for pickup orders so long as they stay six feet apart. Willful violations of the order could result in a misdemeanor charge.
A previous executive order extension already established that face coverings would be required in enclosed public spaces such as grocery stores. A follow-up order issued on April 24 established new guidelines for how food business such as grocery stores, restaurants, and distributors should operate, including shutting down salad bars, using CDC-approved sanitizing solution, and notifying workers and distributors when an employee tests positive for COVID-19. Food businesses are also required to coordinate daily health screenings of workers as they arrive for their shifts.
Whitmer, a Democrat, has been under intense pressure from the state legislature’s republican majority to loosen restrictions imposed by state executive orders in the fight against novel coronavirus. As of now, nearly 4,000 people in the state have died from complications related to COVID-19 in the last two months. However, Republicans argue that the state’s economic crisis needs to be addressed swiftly and get people back to work. Whitmer is advocating for a slower reengagement of the economy in an effort to make sure businesses are operating safely and to avoid hospitals becoming overwhelmed by new COVID-19 cases.
Whitmer and many legal experts contend that under state law she does not need authorization from the legislature to continue the state of emergency.
A Michigan Court of Claims judge issued an opinion blocking a request for an injunction of portions of Whitmer’s stay-at-home order — now extended through May 15. Whitmer’s stay-at-home order has incited protests at the state capitol in Lansing and tweets by President Donald Trump. In an update to the order following those protests, the governor loosened some aspects of the shelter-in-place restrictions.
Protesters carrying guns and flouting social distancing recommendations flooded the state capitol on Thursday, April 30 as the legislature gathered to debate reauthorizing the state of emergency. Republicans concluded their session by issuing a resolution to file a lawsuit against the governor’s office.
In a statement addressing the new dine-in bar and restaurant closure mandate, the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association president and CEO Justin Winslow thanked the legislature for their work on Thursday and urged the governor to provide “clarity and direction” for the hospitality industry. “We commend the governor for already leading with clear guidance on workplace and employee safety, and make no mistake, restaurants across this state stand ready to meet these new requirements,” he says. “We are committed above all else to creating an environment conducive to the safe return of the general public to their favorite restaurant. For many restaurants, however, if that date isn’t known soon, they may not be there at all.”
The MRLA had previously released a survey on April 22 estimating that close to 350,000 hospitality workers had been laid off or furloughed in Michigan since the novel coronavirus was first identified here on March 10. Roughly 55 percent of Michigan restaurants are closed temporarily and around 2 percent say they’re closed permanently.
Bars were given the option of selling their liquor back to the state as a temporary loan in April. However, bars across the region have demanded that the governor loosen liquor laws, as other states have, and allow for the sale of grab-and-go cocktails.
• Order Closing Michigan Restaurant for Dine-In Service in Limbo as Gov. Whitmer, Legislature Argue Over State of Emergency [ED]
• Michigan Extends Restaurant Dining Room Closures Until End of April [ED]
• All Coronavirus Coverage [E]
• How Coronavirus Is Impacting the Detroit Food and Beverage Industry [ED]