Michigan Restaurants, Bars Urge Whitmer To Let Them Reopen Dine-In On May 29

WWJ News
May 08, 2020 - 5:21 pm

    (WWJ) Michigan restaurants and bars are pushing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to let them reopen for dine-in service on May 29.

    An industry group on Friday released a "Roadmap to Reopening" — with guidance such as requiring masks for workers and keeping tables and bar stools six feet apart.

    “The Roadmap to Reopening is thoughtful and thorough guidance for restaurant operators, incorporating the best practices of several federal agencies, relevant content from existing Executive Orders and innovative recommendations from our involvement in the Michigan Economic Recovery Council,” said Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association. “Knowing that half of all states have already reopened restaurant dining in some capacity, we felt the time was right to share our expertise with the Governor Whitmer so that she has every tool she needs to safely reopen restaurants on May 29.”

    Winslow said the group is talking with municipalities and state regulators about expediting the process for opening patios for outdoor eating, including in parking lots and streets closed to traffic.

    He said the roadmap is not meant to be a political document. See it here

    "Our goal really was to help educate the general public, and also share with the governor that this industry is willing to do what it takes to demonstrate that it can operate its restaurants safely, that customers can start to feel safe about moving back and going to their favorite restaurants," Winslow said, in a live interview Friday with WWJ's Jason Scott and Jackie Paige. "You know, it may take time for some, but we're eager to have that opportunity."

    Winslow claims survey data has shown 20 Michigan restaurants a day are permanently going out of business under coronavirus restrictions. WWJ was not immediately able to confirm that statistic. 

    He noted the massive economic impact the closing of bars and restaurants amid the pandemic has had on the state's economy.

    "The industry overall, we're just shy of 10% of the state's entire GDP (gross domestic product)," he said. "So you can see the fallout of this industry could have a massive impact on the economy overall. And then we're one in eight workers — at least we were through the end of February, frankly — one in eight eight workers in the state. So there's a big impact on employment."

    Under the governor's latest state of emergency order, bars and casinos must stay closed at least until May 28, and restaurants are limited to carry-out and delivery orders until that time. 

    This comes after Whitmer said Michigan's manufacturing workers will be allowed to return to work on Monday, May 11. She also announced an extension what what she's now calling the "Safer at Home" order to May 28, and details of the six-phase MI Safe Start Plan to slowly re-engage the state's economy.

    There was no immediate response from governor's office to the restaurant group's request.