Michigan physicians are urging restaurant owners to avoid rushing to reopen in order to "help keep people safer."
A current order from the Department of Health and Human Services paused indoor dining until Dec. 8. The order is expected to be extended through Christmas and New Years.
Rosalie and Joe Vicari, who own more than 20 restaurants across the state with her husband Joe, talked about an upcoming meeting scheduled for Thursday with local restaurant owners and attorneys to discuss possible options if the state extends the lockdown order, which impacts indoor dining.
“COVID-19 is an opportunistic pathogen always on the lookout for a human host, and prematurely reopening dining rooms while infections remain high is to serve people to the coronavirus on a silver platter,” said Dr. Ijeoma Nnodim Opara, MD FAAP, an Internal Medicine-Pediatrics physician in the city of Detroit.
“All of us want people to get back to work and businesses to reopen responsibly, but Mr. Vicari’s call to reopen no matter the health risk is reckless. Data and evidence show that restaurants, bars and cafes are places with the highest likelihood for COVID-19 transmissions, and as physicians, we urge these businesses to help reduce infections by following expert scientific advice so we can all do our part to help keep people safer. Reopening restaurants while COVID-19 ravages Michigan and hospitals are running low on beds and staff will risk the lives of customers as well as countless servers, cooks, cashiers, dishwashers and their families.”
The state argued Monday morning that bars and restaurants are the fifth largest spreader of COVID-19, with 54 recorded outbreaks. The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association is disputing those state numbers.
“We understand that these protections against COVID-19 can add financial stress on already strained businesses and are sympathetic, however, these businesses will suffer more devastating damage if customers and staff continue to fall ill and possibly succumb to this unpredictable infection,” Dr. Opara said. “If we don’t get this pandemic under control we are committing to never giving ourselves the chance of an economic recovery. We urge that the federal government provide interim assistance to help small businesses stay afloat without having to recklessly reopen and endanger more people.”
Restaurant owners say they can't make it with carry-out only, and something needs to be done to help struggling businesses during this time.