Not all restaurants ready to reopen despite COVID restrictions being loosened

Capacity increases from 25% to 50% beginning March 5

OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. – Tuesday’s announcement that Michigan restaurants are able to increase their indoor dining capacity comes as good news for establishments that have now had to deal with two shutdowns since the pandemic started.

“Today (Tuesday), we are announcing that restaurants and bars can operate at 50% capacity. That’s up from 25%” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The long awaited announcement was made Tuesday, with the new change effective March 5. Restaurants will also have a 11 p.m. curfew.

READ: Michigan loosens COVID restrictions on restaurants -- here are all the details

While some restaurants and bars welcome the news, some say it isn’t worth it.

For owners of bars and restaurants, it depends on multiple factors.

READ: Michigan restaurant owner reacts to new indoor dining capacity rule

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, bars and restaurants had to adapt. The Red Coat Tavern in West Bloomfield didn’t have a take-out business at the time, but now it’s gone gangbusters and they’re staying afloat.

The Red Coat Tavern’s burgers have been in high demand and the owners are happy to see the rise to 50% capacity.

The bar is flowing, table service bustling and the take-out zips nonstop from the front door.

As things stand, this is about restaurants like Red Coat and how much they can handle. They said if they were suddenly allowed 100% capacity within the next week, it would be an issue and they would need to hire and train workers for front-of-house and back-of-house jobs.

In Farmington, Tomatoes Apizza owner Mike Weinstein said he will continue to make his pies for take-out only.

“It might be a little less but it’s good enough,” Weinstein said.

He decided the 50% capacity is still too risky and he won’t open for sit-down service yet.

“It didn’t matter to me,” Weinstein said. “I think we’re staying closed until really taking these things off and eating again, you know?”

Restaurant owners are vocal about the demand for workers and they know they’re going to need a lot more help in the near future.

READ: New bill would allow Michigan bars to stay open until 4 a.m.

READ: Here are the 14 changes to Michigan’s COVID rules: Restaurants, gyms, stadiums, retail, gatherings

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