Senate R’s Pass Metric-Drive Reopening Plan
March 30, 2021
If the metric-driven restaurant reopening plan that passed the Senate Thursday were in effect today, restaurants would be at exactly where they are today — 50% capacity.
The plan encased in SB 0250 has restaurants maintaining at 50% capacity when COVID-19 test positivity rates are between 7% and 10%. According to state statistics, the seven-day positivity rate average for March 23 is at 9.6%.
Sen. Jon Bumstead’s SB 0250, which passed 20-15 in the Senate, would also require eateries to engage in contact tracing when the percentage is at this range.
The Senate passed the bill as a way to give the owners of eateries some certainty as to when they could open or would need to close as a way to control the spread of the airborne coronavirus. It still needs to be considered by the House.
Bumstead’s bill is one of the most recent pieces of Republican-led legislation that ties economic reopening plans to actual metrics, which makes its political future much more interesting.
“Our restaurants and event centers are begging for a lifeline to survive,” Bumstead said. “They aren’t asking for handouts or special treatment. They’re asking to know what the rules of the game are so they can put forth a plan to care for their customers.”
Under SB 0250, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and local health departments would allow restaurants to be open when a COVID-19 test positivity rate is less than 3% for at least 14 back-to-back days.
If the test positivity rate is between 3% and 7% for at least seven straight days, an indoor dining establishment could continue serving at 50% capacity. Up to 250 individuals could gather at an inside event — following a 50 people per 1,000 square feet guideline — and outdoor festivities could host a maximum of 500 attendees.
When the rate is between 7% and 10% for seven straight days, establishments are encouraged to record the name and telephone number of guests and their date and time of entry for contact tracing purposes.
When the rate is between 10% and 15% for seven straight days, restaurants could operate at 25% capacity. If the rate is between 15% and 20% for seven straight days, indoor dining would stop and only limited indoor events could take place. When positivity is 20% or above for 14 straight days, restaurants would be prohibited from any indoor events.
Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) said he’s interested in working with Republicans in helping end the threat of COVID-19, but infection rates are more than 20% in several northern Michigan counties.
To the Republican lawmakers, Ananich said, “I don’t know what you guys are doing in your communities, but these are all yours. If you guys can get your stuff together, maybe we can get out of this a lot quicker.”
He noted that the late Sen. Morris Hood, who once sat on the Senate chamber, is dead because of COVID-19.
“I care about restaurants. I care about all of these issues, as well. I will work with you any day you want. We can’t bring him back,” he said.