Traverse City reopens: The new rules for visitors

Posted at 4:39 AM, May 22, 2020

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Friday, Traverse City makes history as one of the first of Michigan’s regions to re-open after Governor Gretchen Whitmer's Stay-At-Home order.

Local business owners say they’re ecstatic to be opening, but they’re also weary.

Owner of Italian restaurant Trattoria Stella, Amanda Danielson, says her initial reaction was “excited. There were a lot of things going on, I was overjoyed, but also thinking, ‘Uh oh, that’s scary.'"

Business owners understand many people will be traveling Up North from coronavirus hot spots, bringing potential danger with them. For this reason there will be modifications to 2020 summer tourism in Traverse City.

Owner and founder of Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars Jim Milligan says they are going to suspend their tasting for awhile, as well as their cooking classes. There will also be plexiglass at the cash register and a limited capacity in the Front Street store.

Dawn Gildersleeve, general manager of the Traverse City Cherry Republic tells us, "We have torn our stores apart and rebuilt them so that we have a better flow pattern for them.”

The new flow pattern includes more entrances to Cherry Republic, paw prints on the ground to show people how far apart they need to be to properly social distance, no samples, and, once again, plexiglass.

Visitors will see plexiglass, social distancing, and they’ll be asked to wear their masks in every store that is open.

As for restaurants, Danielson tells us that Trattoria Stella is already booked up for the weekend with "pages, and pages of reservation requests.“

Most restaurants are already fully booked.

Even if they weren’t required before, reservations are something you’re going to need to get at any restaurant you go to now.

Call ahead to any business before you visit.

Danielson is excited about the business but cautious about all the people coming Up North to their year-round home.

“Honestly, based on the calls we got on Monday--and I knew it was going to be the case--I don't have a lot of confidence in the number of people coming up,” says Danielson. “And it's a shame but people have different views of how what their responsibility is in terms of preventing the transmission of the disease to others.”

For this reason, Danielson is taking matters into her own hands. Trattoria Stella, like many other restaurants, won’t even be accepting customers up to the 50 percent capacity they are allowed.

Danielson explains there will be plexiglass, tables spaced out seven feet, and, "We're bringing in reservations in 15-minute blocks. So, only one party will walk in at any given 15-minute period. We're requiring masks upon entry and while moving through any common area. We’re also providing bags for guests to place their masks in while they're seated at their table.”

If at any time she feels like a guest is violating any of those rules, Danielson says she is very comfortable asking them to leave.

We also spoke to the Traverse City Tourism bureau about what kind of tourism they want to see this summer.

“We're not necessarily promoting the idea of people traveling to Traverse City," says president of the bureau Trevor Tkach. "We know people are coming, and that's really what we're focusing on right now.”

Tkach adds that Traverse City is excited to get some of their summer business rolling, however, please only come Up North if you are ready to abide by their new guidelines.

Traverse City is optimistic Memorial Day Weekend will go well, what happens Up North in the coming days is a telltale sign of what the rest of Michigan could soon look like.

As Gildersleeve told us, “We we don't want 100 million people up here. It's not a big party. We don't want a big party up here, but we welcome everyone to Northern Michigan."