Michigan restaurant association files lawsuit against state’s health director to block ban on dine-in service

COVID-19 restrictions aimed at limiting indoor gatherings

Restaurant (WDIV)

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association (MRLA) has filed a lawsuit against Robert Gordon, in his capacity as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) director, to block the ban on dine-in service.

Plaintiffs Heirloom Hospitality Group LLC and H.I.H. Inc. d/b/a Suburban Inns have joined MRLA in the lawsuit. They’re seeking an emergency preliminary injunction to resume on-premise indoor food and beverage consumption.

Starting Wednesday and lasting through Dec. 8, Michigan residents will only be able to order takeout from restaurants, unless outdoor seating is available. That is under the Michigan Department of Health and Human Service’s new COVID-19 rules.

“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,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said when she announced the rules.

READ: Why is indoor dining at Michigan restaurants being shut down for 3 weeks despite fewer outbreaks?

MRLA President & CEO Justin Winslow released the following statement:

"The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) has filed in federal court for injunctive relief from the Order issued on November 15 by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), which prohibited indoor dining in restaurants for the second time this year. We have taken this action only after careful deliberation and as the last available option to prevent the outright devastation of restaurant operators and their hundreds of thousands of employees across the state.

We want to be clear that we made several good faith efforts in advance of the public release of the Order issued November 15 to reach a compromise with the MDHHS that would have supported the goal of minimizing risk while still allowing for the continued operation of dining rooms.

The MRLA committed to substantially increased restrictions on our industry, including reducing capacity in restaurants to 25% and implementing a 10 p.m. curfew for the duration of the Order. While our proposal would undeniably challenge an already beleaguered industry, it was presented to Director Gordon and the Executive Office of the Governor in earnest to stave off the far worse impact of outright closure.

We are hopeful for a swift and decisive victory in court so restaurant operators may return to what we know they do best – adding value to our lives and our economy by providing a great meal and exceptional hospitality in a safe, socially distanced, sanitized and regulated environment."

View the complaint below:

READ: Complete Michigan COVID-19 coverage

About the Author:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.