LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services just extended an emergency order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
People in the bar and restaurant industry were frustrated on Thursday evening after state health officials announced new restrictions on indoor gatherings as some of the new rules singled out bars and restaurants. These food and drink establishments are what the health department says are the center of the COVID-19 outbreaks.
As of Thursday, the state has a little more than 190,000 cases. The health department and Governor Gretchen Whitmer feel this is a way to prevent a rise in cases.
“Our numbers keep going up and so all of us need to do our parts to mask up to keep from spreading COVID-19 because the numbers are very worrisome. And, today positivity rate shows up and two weeks, three weeks from now in hospitalizations and more stress for all the people who have been putting themselves at risk to take care of us,” said Governor Whitmer.
The new order reduces indoor gatherings from 500 to 50 people. That goes for weddings, parties, and banquets. Bar and restaurant owners now have to limit six people to a table. The state also requires that these establishments take down the names and cell phone numbers of guests for contact tracing purposes.
The bars and restaurants ask the public to respect the servers and anyone working in these establishments because they are required to collect this data.
Bars and restaurants say they are disappointed with this decision.
“We don’t understand why the bars and restaurants are added to this burden,” said Scott Ellis, Executive Director of the Michigan Beverage Association. “Now we’re asking the servers to step in the middle and start taking data from people. So, we’re very confused to why the bars have had this and why maybe not the big box stores and the grocery stores and the other retailers don’t have to collect this data. We’re not sure why that happened.”
The state says there are currently 12 outbreaks in Michigan that are associated with bars or restaurants.
Bars and restaurants say they will be implementing these new rules but hope that the state can answer more questions as they follow these orders.
“How long do we have to keep it for? There’s nothing in the order that says how long we have to keep this data for and what do we do with this data besides just hold it? So [there are] still some questions to be answered from the department of Health and Human Services,” he said.
Those who don’t follow the new orders may face a fine of up to a $1,000 dollars and misdemeanor charges.
Businesses that break these rules could also face punishment.
To see the full order click on the link HERE.
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