MRLA, MLBA support extension of Michigan's epidemic order on masks and gatherings

Posted at 2:42 PM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 14:54:17-04

LANSING, Mich — The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) and The Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA) are showing their support after Michigan officials announced an extension to its key epidemic order.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHSS) announced the extended Gathering and Masks epidemic order Friday, which maintains current orders for bars, restaurants and event centers.

The decision not to add additional restrictions is a relief to the MLBA.

“The Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA) supports and is relieved to hear about the governor’s decision to allow business owners to make their own decisions based on what’s good for their customers and employees,” said MLBA Executive Director Scott Ellis. “We’ve always maintained that the number one priority for most business owners is operating safely during this pandemic and we encourage all establishments to continue to follow the rules.”

The MLBA is urging the public to continue following all MDHHS rules and wear masks when visiting bars and restaurants.

“Our members in high-risk areas are adjusting their business models when necessary and those in low-risk areas are remaining open safely,” Ellis said. “Our industry has faced the brunt of the storm in terms of restrictions and closures since the beginning of the pandemic and we look forward to the day we can fully reopen.”

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MRLA President & CEO Justin Winslow released a statement after the order was extending, praising the decision.

"We laud the difficult, but appropriate decision today by MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel to extend the existing Epidemic Order. While the Order maintains limits on occupancy in restaurants, banquets and event centers, it very importantly opts not to close them a third time as has been suggested by some.

While we maintain that all available data has consistently demonstrated that restaurants have provided a comparatively safe environment for both patrons and employees, we also acknowledge that Michigan is enduring a challenging third wave of COVID-19 with troubling rates of community spread.

In the hospitality industry, we know the importance of working together to get the job done, and that is what we are calling for today. It is incumbent upon all of us — operators and guests alike — to do our part to act responsibly so that we can quickly return to a quality of life that includes dining and travel opportunities for everyone. If you are an operator, remain vigilant and double down on the processes and procedures known to keep people safe and promote outdoor dining if available. If you are a guest, please practice patience and respect the protocols in place to keep you and those around you safe.

We remain committed to working with this administration on policies and communications that incorporate the hospitality industry as part of the solution towards a better and safer Michigan."

Though the extended order does not change rules for restaurants, bars or event spaces, it does expand the mask requirement to include children ages 2 to 4.

The Gatherings and Mask epidemic order is now in effect through May 24.

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