Story at a glance
- Michigan's public health restrictions include closing indoor dining
- A pair of restaurant owners urged other owners to fight closures
The two owners of a Michigan restaurant chain reportedly wrote a letter asking other restaurateurs to continue operations regardless of whether or not state Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and state health department officials implement stricter lockdowns on indoor dining.
The Detroit Free Press reports that Joe and Rosalie Vicari, the owners of Andiamo restaurants in Detroit, penned a letter asking restaurants to fight any closures issued following the outcome of a lawsuit filed by the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association that seeks to halt the state’s attempts at shutting dining operations down to prevent COVID-19 transmission.
The Vicaris wrote that if they lose the lawsuit, the state will likely shut down dining operations through the end of the year.
“Our industry cannot survive another extended closure,” the letter reportedly reads. “Thousands of restaurants and tens of thousands of our employees can not survive it either. We need to band together and FIGHT BACK but we need to do this as a United Group of Michigan Restaurant Owners.”
Rosalie Vicari confirmed to reporters that she and her husband authored the letter.
Part of Michigan’s public health restrictions include closing down indoor dining and restaurants and bars, organized and pro sports, in-person high schools, movie theaters, and other public spaces. These spaces will remain shut down for three weeks.
The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association sued the state over the mandate, and was denied a temporary restraining order on the policy on Nov. 20.
The next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 30.
Should the group lose again, the Vicaris suggest that restaurant owners in the area gather and organize a press conference to local and national media outlets “... to announce that as a powerful, collective group, we will be reopening our restaurants on Dec. 9.”
Restaurants, bars, and other eateries have borne the brunt of the economic fallout catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from July indicates that roughly 60 percent of restaurants shut down due to the pandemic are permanently closed due to the stop of revenue.
In Michigan alone, thousands of restaurants are on the verge of shuttering, according to Justin Winslow, the president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association.
"If the closure is prolonged and federal stimulus dollars are not made immediately available, upwards of 6,000 more restaurants will permanently close by spring,” he reportedly wrote in a court document.
The order comes as Michigan struggles to contain its rapid COVID-19 transmission. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon said the court’s current decision to uphold the state’s shutdown order will help save lives.
“Orders similar to this one have successfully stopped COVID surges in many other countries. That’s why public health experts support the approach, and we believe these targeted and temporary steps are needed to avoid overwhelmed hospitals and death counts like we saw in the spring,” Gordon said following the Nov. 20 decision. “If all of us mask up and avoid indoor gatherings, we will not only save thousands of lives and protect our frontline health workers, but we’ll also be able to enjoy indoor restaurant dining without fear.”