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Monday, September 14, 2020

New campaign calls for policy change to ensure Michigan's hospitality industry won't be left in the cold this winter

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2020 at 11:20 AM

View of outside patio furniture for the Cancun Mexican Grill and the Grand Loft business at the corner of Bridge Street and Jefferson in Grand Ledge. - FOCUSED ADVENTURES / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Focused Adventures / Shutterstock.com
  • View of outside patio furniture for the Cancun Mexican Grill and the Grand Loft business at the corner of Bridge Street and Jefferson in Grand Ledge.

The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association has launched a new campaign to draw public awareness to the thousands of local restaurants and hotels crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic and the policies that they say must be adopted so the hospitality industry has a chance at surviving the colder months ahead.

The MRLA's “Don’t Leave Michigan’s Hospitality Industry Out in the Cold” acknowledges that, though patio seating provided temporary relief to many restaurants over the summer as they endured reduced capacity restrictions, more than half of Michigan's hotels are considered unprofitable, and 23% of restaurants in the state recognize they may not be in business in six months. The MRLA says the current executive orders are not going to cut it.



“We have provided realistic solutions and stand ready to work collaboratively with the governor, the legislature and local leaders across the state to help safely transition this industry indoors as the season changes,” MRLA president and CEO Justin Winslow said in a press release. “We must act quickly as nearly 5,000 small businesses and well over 100,000 jobs hang in the balance.”
One of those solutions include allowing Michigan meeting and banquet centers reduced capacity allowances as have been granted to other businesses, restaurants included. The MRLA also wants to make it so restaurants are allowed to winterize outdoor spaces so they can continue the expanded seating offered by summertime patio seating, as well as extending restaurants' alcohol service permits. The campaign also asks for Pure Michigan funding to be restored as a means to encourage safe travel throughout the state.

The central proposal, however, is contingent on data reported by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The campaign calls for expanded indoor capacity as long as restaurant and banquet centers positive test rate falls below 3% over an extended period of time.

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that
adults over the age of 18 who tested positive for the coronavirus were “twice as likely” to have dined at a restaurant two weeks before reporting symptoms.

The CDC has placed dine-in services at restaurants on a sliding risk scale, depending on the social distancing and sanitation efforts enforced at an establishment. Restaurants that are exclusively takeout, drive-thru, or curbside pick-up-only are considered low risk of exposing or contracting the coronavirus.

Last week's Metro Times cover story looked at how three Detroit-area restaurants have dealt with the pandemic.

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