Restaurants’ Reopening Plan Would Allow For 50% Capacity Right Now
February 23, 2021
Restaurants would be allowed to open to 50% capacity instead of the state-ordered 25% under a reopening plan proposed by the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association (MRLA).
The MRLA plan would base restaurant restrictions on the state’s percent positivity rate for COVID-19 tests. Right now, state officials said the positivity rate is 3.9%, and under the MRLA plan, restaurants would be allowed to be open to 50% capacity in that case.
Under the current state health order, restaurants are limited to 25% capacity and a 10 p.m. curfew. The MRLA plan has those restrictions in place for when the positivity rate is between 10 and 15%.
If the positivity rate fell below 3%, all restaurant restrictions would be lifted.
The MRLA said it used the positivity rate for its plan because it’s “a reliable barometer to measure the saturation of the virus in an area at a given time. It is clear, easy to understand and available to all Michiganders.”
The MRLA reopening plan also calls for hospitality workers to be categorized as “other essential frontline workers” in Phase 1B of the vaccination campaign, which the state has scheduled to begin in May.
“We have long advocated the need for a more comprehensive strategy for the economic reintegration of our restaurants, banquet centers and entertainment venues in Michigan,” said Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the MRLA, in a statement. “Through this plan, we are putting our metrics where our mouth is and hope it proves a useful tool to elected leaders as we enter a new phase of the pandemic.”
Asked about the MRLA’s proposal, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Wednesday acknowledged the pandemic’s burden has been greater for the restaurants, and that she understands their desire to provide input and that “we will always take that input and make it a part of the conversation.”
However, she said she’s going to “stay very clearly focused on the numbers” to see where the state is.
Whitmer said she knows people want to increase capacity at restaurants, and she said getting the Legislature to pass her COVID-19 relief plan is key to that because “our success is dependent on having the resources” to get people vaccinated, to support businesses and re-engage schools.
The Small Business Association of Michigan called the MRLA plan “a strong, data-driven approach to reopening for some of the hardest-hit industries.” The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance also supported the MRLA plan.