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Restaurant owners confused by new mask guidance from the CDC

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Posted at 9:03 PM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 21:19:57-04

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — Business owners across West Michigan are trying to figure out what the latest guidance from the CDC will mean for their establishments and customers.

The guidance released Thursday afternoon eases indoor mask-wearing restrictions for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to safely stop wearing masks inside in most places.

READ MORE: CDC says fully vaccinated Americans can go without face masks in most settings

"It's so hard for us to keep up with all the news as a restaurant right now, and try to figure out what our next plans are, what we're supposed to be doing," said Chef Jenna Arcidiacono of Amore Trattoria in Comstock Park. "I don't want to put extra stress on my people either; my staff doesn't deserve that right now."

Arcidiacono, and other owners like Jessica Ann Tyson of The Candied Yam, worry how the new rule will be enforced.

"I don't know what I can do to enforce that; I am not the police. I cook fried chicken," exclaimed Tyson. "I just want to serve my people; I just want to serve my community and my customers."

For many places, the current capacity restrictions and curfew are the bigger problems.

"Until they change that rule, then nothing is helping us at all," said Arcidiacono.

The Grand Rapids Chamber released a statement late Thursday, calling on Governor Whitmer and the MDHHS to update state restrictions to align with the CDC.

"Today's CDC announcement that anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor activities - large or small - without wearing a mask highlights the urgent need for Governor Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to update restrictions to allow for weddings and events in alignment with this new health guidance," said Rick Baker, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Chamber.

"Our event venues, large and small, are in desperate need of clarity so they can plan their recovery. Michigan’s current plan has no certain dates, and we are more than a million and half vaccinations away from getting 'Vacc to Normal.'

“Michigan is clearly an outlier in this industry compared to other states and especially in the Midwest. We are losing business to other states, and it is time to change course. We need to set a date to bring indoor meetings, conventions, weddings and events safely back.”

“In addition, we call on the Whitmer administration to pull back making Michigan’s COVID-19 workplace safety rules permanent. Given the changing information as we emerge from the pandemic, this is not the time to advance permanent rules that are inconsistent with the CDC, require masks, and more.”

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