Guidance released Friday by the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging
Association to help restaurants prepare to reopen their
dining rooms includes procedures for cleaning, screening
workers, providing them masks and gloves, and keeping customers,
tables and bar stools 6 feet apart.
``The No. 1 challenge for restaurants is still going to be
convincing the public that restaurants are safe to return to.
But they need to be given that chance,`` said Justin Winslow,
president and CEO of the industry group. He estimated that more
than 20 restaurants a day will close for good this month despite
the federal coronavirus relief package.
Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said the governor ``will
continue to listen to medical experts and put the health and
safety of Michiganders first.''
Whitmer indicated Thursday that bars and restaurants will not
reopen until the state reaches the fifth of six phases for
reengaging the economy. It is now in the third phase, during
which the governor has allowed construction, real estate,
outdoor work, and manufacturing to resume.
For Michigan to progress to the fifth phase, coronavirus cases
and deaths would have to reach ``low absolute rates per
capita,'' hospital capacity would need to be ``very strong,''
and ``robust'' testing and contact tracing would have to be in
place, according to a chart released by Whitmer.
``There's not a lot of clarity there. There's no date certain.
All of that feels pretty malleable, and this industry needs some
clarity and guidance because they're closing,'' Winslow said.
With the need for restaurants to spread dine-in customers apart,
he said, the organization is speaking with municipalities and
the state Liquor Control Commission about expediting the
regulatory process to open patios. Restaurants, bars and cafes
likely will propose new ways to use parking lots and streets
closed to traffic to effectively operate in less densely packed
spaces, he said.
Ohio bars and restaurants can fully reopen on May 21, with
outside dining allowed on May 15. Ohio has about half of
Michigan's 46,300 COVID-19 cases and less than a third of the
death toll, which is nearly 4,400. Michigan on Friday reported
50 additional deaths and 680 more cases.
Whitmer said Thursday that the state has had a ``uniquely tough
time'' with the disease, and she had to be aggressive with her
``We have to reengage like a dial, not a switch that goes on or
off, but a dial that we can turn,'' she said. ``We can continue
to turn the intensity up if everyone does their part. We have to
remember the threat of a second wave is very real.``
The Republican-led Legislature this week sued to challenge the
validity of Whitmer's stay-at-home order, which is set to last
at least until May 28. State Court of Claims Judge Cythia
Stephens on Friday set oral arguments for May 15.