State: Link between COVID-19 positivity and indoor dining among reasons for extended shutdown

Posted at 6:38 AM, Dec 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-08 06:38:07-05

State officials cited "overwhelming research and scientific data" for the decision to continue restricting dine-in services at Michigan businesses.

RELATED: Gov. Whitmer announces partial shutdown extended until Dec. 20 due to COVID-19

In a press conference Monday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer said "multiple studies" show that going to locations that offer on-site eating and drinking options is associated with COVID-19 positivity.

Whitmer said adults with positive COVID tests were approximately twice as likely to report dining at a restaurant than those who are negative.

"It's not anyone's fault," Whitmer said. "It's not the restaurant's fault. It's not my fault. This is how COVID-19 spreads. It's just that simple."

Whitmer and MDHHS Director Robert Gordon announced Monday they are extending the partial shutdown of the state until Dec. 20.

The original pandemic order that was a "three-week pause" and shut down indoor dining service, in-person classes at high schools, movie theatres and more was set to expire at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

Restaurant owners have criticized the move, who say many bars and businesses will be permanently out of order due to these restrictions.

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association previously filed a lawsuit against Gordon over the 3-week pause. Federal Judge Paul Maloney denied a preliminary injunction that would have allowed bars and restaurants to reopen with COVID-19 restrictions.

The MLRA released the following statement in response to the extension:

“We aren’t surprised by the governor’s decision to extend Director Gordon’s MDHHS Order today, but we remain exceptionally disappointed. We firmly believe there is a better approach – one followed by 45 other states – that doesn’t use blunt force closure of a single industry to resolve a shared crisis. We maintain that a more nuanced approach that allows for limited indoor capacity with a curfew will result in greater compliance, better health outcomes and substantially reduced economic fallout.

Upon completion of this most recent Order, restaurant dining rooms will have been closed for 118 days, nearly one-third of the calendar year. We already know the impact of another extended shutdown will be significant, as the industry lost over $8 billion in sales and laid off more than 75 percent of its workforce when it was shuttered for an extended period in the spring.

The restaurant industry is comprised of creative and resilient individuals, but for a growing number of them, this latest pause is the cause of their lost livelihood and well-being.”

"Progress against COVID is hard to earn and easy to lose," Gordon said. "We need to reopen cautiously, not recklessly."

"To our small business owners, I want you to know I understand the incredible sacrifices you’ve made this year in order for us to save people's lives," Whitmer said.