LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan mandate that has forced dine-in restaurants and bars to close for the second time this year is getting a mixed response from industry leaders that worry the move could hurt businesses.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced the new order earlier this month as the number of cases and hospitalizations continue to rise. State law allows the agency to prohibit gatherings during an epidemic, MLive.com reported.
The ban, which went into effect Wednesday, will last for three weeks. But the state could decide to extend it. The mandate also affects other businesses, including movie theaters, bowling alleys and high schools.
Some industry leaders say the ban won't prevent people from getting COVID-19, while others think it is worth halting dine-in services to help the state.
Justin Winslow, who heads the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, said the ban will only encourage social events. Those gatherings are riskier than restaurants because they aren’t regulated with distancing, sanitization and capacity limits, Winslow said.
“Restaurants should be willing to do whatever it takes to get this thing stabilized so that we can get back to business as usual one day,” said Curt Catallo, Co-Owner of Union Joints, which has seven restaurants in metro Detroit.
Union Joints made an app for its customers to use to place their carryout orders. The goal is to not have to lay off any of its 700 employees, Catallo said.
Scott Ellis, executive director of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, said in a news release that the shutdown will be detrimental to small businesses.
“Our industry has been devastated and this is just another nail in the coffin for many businesses,” Ellis said.
Winslow said his association is upset about the new order when there is “no safety net of federal stimulus dollars to soften the blow to already ailing operators and employees.”
However, the Small Business Association of Michigan is giving at least $3 million in grants to small businesses to create outdoor spaces for their customers. Eligible businesses can receive $1,000 to $10,000.