Restaurant Patrons Rejoice: Indoor Dining Reopens Today

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) released its latest epidemic order in January, which allows the reopening of indoor dining at restaurants, among other places, according to a statewide press release. The order will allow for indoor dining at restaurants with certain requirements; concessions at casinos, movie theaters, and stadiums; personal services requiring mask removal; and non-residential gatherings of up to 10 people from two households. The new order will last three weeks, until Sunday, February 21.   

“The pause has worked. The efforts we have made together to protect our families, frontline workers, and hospitals have dramatically reduced cases and we have saved lives. Now, we are confident that starting February 1, restaurants can resume indoor dining with safety measures in place,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in the press release. “Michigan continues to be a national leader in fighting this virus, and we must continue working to keep it that way. One of the most important things Michiganders can do is to make a plan to get the safe and effective vaccine when it’s available to you. And as always, mask up and maintain six feet of social distancing. We will end this pandemic together.” 

“We are pleased to see the improvements in case rates, hospitalizations, and percent positivity that have allowed us to reopen more activities,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “However, we must remain vigilant, especially since we now have a new more easily transmitted variant of this virus present in our state. This is not the time to let our guard down and Michiganders should minimize their risk by avoiding gatherings, wearing masks properly, social distancing, and making a plan to get their vaccine when it is their turn.”    

Restaurants and bars can reopen at 25% capacity with up to 100 people. Tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people per table. Outdoor tents with four sides are permitted under these same rules. Bars and restaurants must close by 10 p.m. Additionally, contact information must be collected from diners for contact tracing purposes.

“Today’s announcement is possible because of our progress over the last two months,” said Robert Gordon, then-MDHHS director in January. “Even so, the science is clear that unmasked, indoor activities like dining and drinking are still a source of high risk around COVID-19. The safest course remains to support your favorite restaurant with carryout, delivery, or outdoor dining. If individuals choose to eat out, there are two things they can do to make it much safer: go out only with members of their own household and choose a restaurant participating in the MI COVID-19 Safer Dining certification program.”

The voluntary MI COVID-19 Safer Dining program allows foodservice establishments to become certified by having their ventilation system inspected and submitting their inspection report to the state indicating they are bettering airflow, the release added. Once certified, businesses will be featured on the website and receive a copy of their certification to post at their establishment to inform diners of their participation. Funding is proposed for foodservice establishments to participate as part of the $10 million included in the recent supplemental budget request for restaurant supports administered by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 


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