When will Michigan restaurants be allowed to reopen after the most recent shutdown due to COVID-19? When can we expect to learn that decision? Why are restaurants still closed while other types of places are allowed to remain open?
Local 4′s Hank Winchester asked Gov. Gretchen Whitmer about restaurants Tuesday during her COVID-19 briefing. Right now, restaurants are limited to carry-out and delivery orders, as indoor dining is shut down through at least Dec. 20.
“We know that our restaurants are hurting right now, and it is not their fault that COVID-19 has spread so far and wide across the country and across our state,” Whitmer said.
Since the “pause,” Michigan has seen its COVID-19 trends start moving in the right direction, with the case, hospitalization and positivity rates all on the decline.
Whitmer said she believes once 2021 rolls around, each month will get better than the next.
“The weather will get warmer,” Whitmer said. “We’ll have an administration that is really focused on a national strategy around COVID-19. All of these things are reasons to feel very optimistic about 2021.”
A survey released Tuesday showed that one-third of restaurant owners don’t believe they can go another six months like this. They feel COVID-19 restrictions are inconsistent, with people allowed to go to malls or grocery stores, but not restaurants.
“There is a ban on indoor dining, and I think that to the extent that these restaurants are seeing that happen in other realms — that is unfortunate,” Whitmer said. “We know that this virus passes easily through respiration, and that’s why (indoor dining is shut down).”
She said places where people from multiple households gather indoors without masks on are inherently dangerous in terms of spreading the virus.
“I have a lot of conversations with my friends who are in the restaurant industry,” Whitmer said. “It is hard. There’s no question. They also know that we’ve got to have consumer confidence, and people have to feel safe.
“It’s a very scary moment for a lot of people, and there’s a critical reason to feel optimistic about next year. We need to take some action now, and I will continue working for helping these businesses everywhere that I can take action.”
Michigan reported 4,730 new COVID-19 cases and 183 additional deaths (71 from a Vital Records review) on Tuesday, bringing the state totals to 442,715 cases and 10,935 deaths since the start of the pandemic.