Ann Arbor restaurant owner pens open letter to city leadership, urges ‘emergency shut-down’

Engelbert is urging city leaders to stop downtown street closures

Detroit Street Filling Station (Michelle Oliver, Copyright 2021 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit - All rights reserved.)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – “I am writing to urge you to shut down all nonessential activity in the city. The spread of COVID is truly an emergency. We need to take measures now to slow it,” wrote Detroit Street Filling Station owner Phillis Engelbert in a letter to Ann Arbor leadership.

In an open letter, Engelbert implored city leadership to stop nonessential activity and called for an “emergency shut-down.“

She specifically presses Ann Arbor City Council members, Mayor Christopher Taylor and City Administrator Tom Crawford to stop the street closures around downtown to avoid encouraging crowds to congregate.

After testing the model in 2020, the city implemented the closures on April 1 this year to give residents extra space while they patronize restaurants and shops. Businesses are required to follow social distancing and mask requirements.

Read: Michigan extends COVID rules for gatherings, masks, restaurants, entertainment venues

“I have seen the public crowd into downtown streets and the Kerrytown area; many are unmasked. There is no way to effectively police the social distancing and mask mandates throughout the city. People will not self-police. The only remedy is to shut it down,” Engelbert wrote.

Over the course of the past few weeks, cases of COVID-19 have increased despite vaccination efforts and increased testing around the county.

In the letter, Engelbert cites the growing case numbers within the county and the need to protect restaurant industry workers who may not have received vaccinations.

“The majority of workers at these establishments are not yet fully vaccinated; someone needs to stand up for them,” she wrote.

Noting that her own businesses, Detroit Street Filling Station and the Lunchroom Bakery & Cafe, have been operating on a carry-out and delivery basis since October, Engelbert further offered to help other businesses with the model and acknowledged the difficulty of city leadership roles.

With the letter also posted to Facebook, many community members voiced support of Engelbert’s position, thanking the restaurant owner for speaking out.

Read the letter below.


Posted by Detroit Street Filling Station on Wednesday, April 14, 2021


About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.