Michigan officials claim there have been 12 coronavirus outbreaks stemming from bars and restaurants, so now the state wants patrons to provide their name and phone number for future potential contact tracing.
The new rule from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will go into effect on Monday, Fox News reported. Bars and restaurants will also be required to restrict the number of customers to 50 or fewer and allow no more than six people at a single table. Bars and restaurants that don’t follow the new mandate could be fined $1,000.
Scott Ellis, executive director of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, told Fox 17 that the state already requires restaurants to operate at 50% capacity. Further, he said, wait staff are having to deal with customers who don’t appreciate the restrictions.
“Our frontline servers have already had trouble dealing with masks and mandates and mandating masks,” Ellis told the outlet. “We did de-escalation training and all kinds of other things to help with that and now we’re taking to the next level. We have to gather someone’s personal information?”
“We just told them ‘look get names and phone numbers and write it on a piece of paper’ because if the health department calls you and says, ‘hey someone came in on this date I need the list’ they have to provide it,” he added.
If customers refuse to provide their names and phone numbers, Fox 17 reported, they may be refused service.
“You accept it when you’re ordering out it’s just something you have to do and then how many people don’t want to give it when they order out and how truthful is it? We don’t know,” Ellis told the outlet. “And I think when you’re going to sit down at a restaurant you just don’t expect someone to take your name and number because you’re coming to have a drink or a burger.”
Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, told Fox 17 in a statement in a statement that this new mandated doesn’t match “existing science and data” showing “minimal transmission” from restaurants. He said that about 2% of cases currently being investigated by Michigan are from bars and restaurants.
Michigan health officials say that number is now 5.5%.
Winslow’s full statement:
We appreciate and respect the efforts of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to keep all Michiganders safe as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Michigan. We maintain, however, that a restaurant industry-specific contact tracing mandate lacks merit given existing science and data.
The COVID-19 outbreak investigation data collected by the MDHHS continues to show minimal transmission from restaurant dining, despite the rising caseloads, representing only about 2% of all cases the state is investigating. In relation to the size and scope of the industry, which serves millions of people every day and employs several hundred thousand more, this well-intended effort is more likely to result in job loss, foreclosure and fewer restaurants than it will prevent transmission.
Restaurants across this state have risen to the challenge thrust upon them in 2020, providing a place for people to safely gather, eat a great meal and feel, well, human. We remain confident that if given the opportunity, restaurants will continue to offer this experience in a safer environment than alternatives that are less regulated and less sanitized.
Robert Gordon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, however, said the new mandate was enacted to take “targeted action” to parts of the economy that are “particularly severe sources of spread.”
“We are issuing guidance that is a very clear road map for what we need to do bring cases down,” he told The Detroit News.