Why is Michigan shutting down indoor dining at restaurants for three weeks even though there aren’t as many outbreaks linked to restaurants compared to other activities?
From Wednesday (Nov. 18) through Dec. 8, Michiganders will only be able to order takeout from restaurants, unless outdoor seating is available. Restaurants, schools and entertainment facilities were the main targets of the new order.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was asked the following question Sunday when she announced the Michigan Department of Health and Human Service’s new COVID-19 rules.
“Restaurants and bars were able at least to mitigate some difficulties earlier in the year with outdoor dining. That’s obviously not going to be a realistic option now, and they seem disappointed that they don’t have a very big percentage of the outbreaks, according to the state outbreak data. Can you explain why you felt like this needed to be shut down even though, while there are definitely some outbreaks at restaurants, they’re not at the top of the list of entities with those outbreaks?”
Whitmer essentially said the three-week pause is geared at limiting any situation that puts people from different households together indoors.
“We have such a high concentration of community spread all across the state of Michigan that this action today is not a stay-at-home order, but it is geared toward limiting indoor gatherings of groups of people," Whitmer said.
She said when people come from all over to dine inside, it creates an inherently more dangerous scenario, especially as the number of COVID-19 cases rises sharply around Michigan.
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“I know that this is a difficult time,” Whitmer said. “I don’t ever want people to think any of these are easy decisions, but considering the level of COVID-19 present all across the state of Michigan, considering the inherent risk of being inside with people from more than one household -- which, if you think about how many households are represented in a regular dining experience, it’s just that much more dangerous.
“That’s why this activity, like the others that are being addressed, fell into this category.”
Whitmer said shutting down indoor dining at restaurants is among the actions health experts recommended to slow the spread of COVID-19.