Whitmer ‘Hopes’ to Reopen Indoor Dining Feb. 1
One business segment that has suffered innumerable losses and devastated its workforce during this pandemic is the Dining industry. Many were put out of work in the spring, able to resume work during the summer, then laid off again in November as indoor dining was once again prohibited. Governor Whitmer has extended the restaurant ban again, but hopes to lift it February 1st. There will still be restrictions on capacity, social distancing, a curfew and mask wearing will be required except when eating. But if the COVID-19 numbers keep declining, indoor dining may be allowed. There are other restrictions that have been lifted effective January 16, non-contact sports and indoor fitness classes may resume.
Whitmer announced the changes at a news conference on Wednesday, Jan. 13. State law allows the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to prohibit gatherings during an epidemic. Michigan residents laid off during this latest partial shutdown are eligible for $1,650 from the state, as part of a $45 million program. Impacted businesses are also eligible for up to $20,000 from the state. This is part of how Michigan is propping up the hospitality industry it has shut down, Whitmer said.
We are one of only three states with a current statewide ban on indoor dining. Many business organizations showed their frustration over the announcement of the order’s extension, including the MRLA. Governor Whitmer says “It’s not their fault that the activity in which they engage is inherently more risky, that’s the nature of this virus.”
The state's partial shutdown occurred again on November 18th, originally a 3 week order, but has been extended twice now. Casinos, bowling centers and theatres were allowed to open with restrictions in December. The leaders are watching three metrics to determine their actions, case numbers, hospitalizations and the rate of positive tests. Whitmer says we need to see all three trends go down before reopening.
The State of Michigan is getting hundreds of millions of Federal Covid-19 money for vaccine distribution, testing and tracing, emergency assistance for renters, help with childcare, more food stamp benefits, and money to help schools and colleges upgrade their HVAC systems to better fight the risk of the virus in classrooms. The money has to be allocated by the legislature and approved by the Governor.
The Federal government and the state of Michigan are stepping up to help fight this persistent virus.