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Judge rules in state's favor — Michigan bars & restaurants to remain shut down

Posted at 1:51 PM, Dec 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 23:14:40-05

(WXYZ) — In a blow to the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, a judge ruled in favor of the State of Michigan to keep bars and restaurants closed under the state's current epidemic order.

RELATED: Michigan doctors urging restaurant owners to avoid prematurely opening dining rooms

Federal Judge Paul Maloney denied a preliminary injunction that would have allowed bars and restaurants to reopen with COVID-19 restrictions.

The MRLA released the following statement in response to the ruling:

"While we are disappointed with today’s ruling, it is important to note what Judge Maloney explicitly acknowledged in his ruling, stating that “Michigan restaurants are at risk of, or have already suffered, irreparable harm under Director Gordon’s EO.” It is in that vein that we will now transition our efforts to preventing an extension of the MDHHS Order beyond December 8 and call on Director Gordon to provide clear and specific data to justify the sustained closure of restaurants across the state. Presumptions and generalizations will not suffice and should no longer be tolerated given the significant human toll they have wrought from closing restaurants for a second time this year. Moreover, we believe this industry, like any other that has been forced to close, deserves a clear pathway to the full reintegration of their business, with reliable criteria and metrics to be met from Director Gordon to facilitate that reintegration. We have ideas and reasonable solutions to offer and reiterate our willingness to engage in a substantive dialogue with this administration should they wish to do the same."

Two weeks ago, the MRLA filed the lawsuit against Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon over the 3-week pause that went into effect a few weeks ago that halted in-person dining at Michigan restaurants.

RELATED: 'I feel hopeless, I feel desperate.' Michigan restaurant owners discuss plan to defy state orders if lockdown is extended

The MRLA said it offered to reduce capacity, which was already at 50%, and implement a curfew, but indoor dining was forced to stop. The MRLA said it fears possible restaurant closures due to the pause.

On Nov. 20, the federal judge denied the MRLA's request to allow in-person dining and put a stay on the MDHHS order while the lawsuit was heard in court.

According to the judge, the MRLA didn't give enough evidence that would allow for a temporary restraining order.

The attorney for the MRLA argued the latest order issued on Nov. 15 will put many bars and restaurants permanently out of business. It is set to expire on Dec. 8 but Maloney noted it will likely be extended saying, "to say the situation is fluid would be an understatement."

They were allowed to reopen in June at 50% capacity after the first wave of COVID-19 and early restrictions were lifted.

The Assistant Attorney General argued on behalf of the state that the second wave of COVID is still surging, that 54 outbreaks have been documented at bars and restaurants and they are the 5th largest source of virus spread in the state. He also noted that hospitals are at or near capacity and the healthcare industry is on the verge of collapse.

MDHHS released the following statement in response to the ruling:

“We are happy that today’s ruling keeps in place measures that will save lives by limiting specific indoor gatherings that greatly increase the risk of COVID-19 spread. The science is settled: public health experts from around the nation and world say these types of actions must be taken to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases. These protocols on specific indoor gatherings, along with wearing face masks, social distancing and frequent handwashing, give Michigan a fact-based approach to slow the spread of COVID-19 so we can return to a strong economy and get back to normal safely as soon as we can.”

View the full ruling below:

MRLA ruling by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd

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