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click to enlarge COURTESY OF HONCHO

  • Courtesy of Honcho

Michigan’s ban on indoor dining at restaurants has been extended by 12 days to help suppress a possible surge in COVID-19 cases following Thanksgiving.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the extension of the three-week ban on Monday, which means the order is now in place through Dec. 20.

The epidemic orders also call for households to only interact with one other household for the duration of time, and for people to wear masks if indoors with people outside of those “pods.”

Bars and restaurants can remain open for outdoor dining, carry-out, and delivery.

Casinos, movie theaters, and group exercise classes remain closed, and colleges, universities, and high schools will continue with remote learning, with no in-person classes. Professional and college sports can continue without spectators, and gyms can remain open with safety measures in place.

The epidemic orders are issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and are different than Whitmer’s emergency powers that the Michigan Supreme Court struck down earlier this year.

“While we have seen early signs of progress in our case rates and hospitalizations, unfortunately our rates are still alarmingly high and we need more time to understand the impact that Thanksgiving travel may have had on the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, said in a statement. “I am hopeful because vaccines will be available soon, potentially later this month. However, it will take time for the vaccine to be widely available to the general public, and it is important that we continue to do what we can to contain this virus.”

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Justin Winslow, the president of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association, which attempted to sue the state to overturn the initial three-week ban on indoor dining, issued a statement in response.

“We aren’t surprised by the governor’s decision to extend Director Gordon’s MDHHS Order today, but we remain exceptionally disappointed. We firmly believe there is a better approach – one followed by 45 other states – that doesn’t use blunt force closure of a single industry to resolve a shared crisis. We maintain that a more nuanced approach that allows for limited indoor capacity with a curfew will result in greater compliance, better health outcomes and substantially reduced economic fallout.

Upon completion of this most recent Order, restaurant dining rooms will have been closed for 118 days, nearly one-third of the calendar year. We already know the impact of another extended shutdown will be significant, as the industry lost over $8 billion in sales and laid off more than 75 percent of its workforce when it was shuttered for an extended period in the spring.

The restaurant industry is comprised of creative and resilient individuals, but for a growing number of them, this latest pause is the cause of their lost livelihood and well-being.”

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