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West Michigan businesses worried about potential impact to already struggling industries

Posted at 10:19 PM, Nov 15, 2020

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The business community is West Michigan is concerned about the impacts of the new policies announced Sunday by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“It is going to be difficult for them to navigate this process,” said Rick Bates, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce.

Under it, indoor dining at restaurants and bars, bingo halls, casinos, arcades, bowling centers, ice skating rinks, indoor water parks, and theaters must close for three weeks beginning Wednesday.

Bates says the new MDHHS order targets industries already hit hard by previous restrictions. Dining resumed in June with indoor entertainment following in October.

“It’s coming on top of what’s already been a challenging time,” said Bates.

The Michigan Licensed Beverage Association says a recent survey found one-third of bars are currently on the verge of closing permanently with another 29 percent in the same situation in one to three months. The state restaurant association, MLRA, said if the closure is prolonged and there is no federal stimulus, upwards of 6,000 more restaurants will shut down for good by the spring, MRLA says approximately 2,000 restaurants have already closed their doors in Michigan in 2020, but did not say if they were all due to COVID-19 impacts.

“We will more likely be reducing some hours and some shifts,” said Paola Mendivil, catering coordinator at Granerjo Mexican Grill. “We were afraid of it. I think it’s going to be devastating for the industry once again.”

Mendivil says the restaurant plans to offer take out, but says sales are still slow. She estimates business is between 65-70 percent when compared to last year. She is asking people outside of the impacted industries to play their part.

“We need to take responsibility for the actions that we’re doing, we need to do our part, continue to wear our masks, avoid gatherings,” said Mendivil. “Together we can make this work like we did at the beginning but it’s going to be extra hard.”