LAKE ORION, Mich. – Michigan has loosened COVID-19 restrictions for several indoor venues, including casinos, bowling alleys and movie theaters, but indoor dining at restaurants is still not allowed.
In fact, the updated order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services didn’t change the restrictions on restaurants at all.
Despite being only able to remain open for carryout under the current orders, one Lake Orion restaurant is is defying the order by resuming its indoor dining services.
Times Square restaurant was busy. Owner Kelly Luchkovitc said the the restaurant was on an hour wait for customers the entire day.
“Something has got to give,” said Luchkovitc said. “These bills need to be paid or we’ll be out on the street.
Luchkovitc has been at Times Square for 12 years. She said she opened the doors because casinos and movie theaters are allowed open. Although the new order has concession stands closed and masks required.
“It’s ruining our lives,” Luchkovitc said. “I don’t understand why some people can go here some people can go there. That’s all OK but coming to a restaurant isn’t?”
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon said the reason why concession stands are closed is to prevent any reason for someone to take their mask off indoors.
“There will not be changes for highest risk settings of indoor bars and dining where masks are necessarily removed,” Gordon said.
Customers agree with Luchkovitc.
“Do you want to live behind sheltered doors for the remainder of your years or do you want to get out and live that normal life that everybody can?” asked Matt Denoer.
“This has gotten beyond ridiculous,” Dick Barker said. “I’m happy for Kelly opening her place.”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer laid out the science behind the ban in November, where she cited multiple studies that showed an increase in the spread of COVID-19 and indoor dining.
“Businesses that are places where people come together, inside, from different households and remove their masks -- like places where you eat or drink -- are uniquely at risk in this moment,” Whitmer said. “It’s not the restaurant’s fault. It’s not the bar’s fault. It’s not our fault. It’s just the nature of COVID-19.”
Luchkovitc said she understands the risk, but said it should be up to individuals to choose whether to put themselves at risk.
“If you feel comfortable coming in here, who are you do say no when you can go to all these other places?” Luchkovitc said.
Health experts have repeatedly pushed back against the idea of individuals putting themselves at risk because the virus can spread to people who would not have chosen to take a risk, but for Luchkovitc, it’s a risk she’s willing to take.
“We don’t want bad things to happen but we need to survive too,” she said.
Local 4′s Hank Winchester asked Gov. Gretchen Whitmer about restaurants during her COVID-19 briefing.
“We know that our restaurants are hurting right now, and it is not their fault that COVID-19 has spread so far and wide across the country and across our state,” Whitmer said.