'We want to get our people back to work.' Restaurant and bar owners trying to find compromise amid COVID-19 shutdown

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Posted at 5:20 PM, Dec 03, 2020

(WXYZ) — The owners of the Andiamo Restaurants had floated the idea of a mass group of restaurant and bar owners defying state COVID-19 shutdown orders.

They called a meeting of fellow bar and restaurant owners to discuss it. It was to be held inside their Andiamo Conference Center in Warren but it became too big.

They moved it to Zoom and the Zoom maxed out. They will be posting the video later for everyone to see it.

During the meeting, attorneys advised the owners flatly don’t do it. State officials will come after their food and liquor license and shut them down.

“The Liquor Commission has a huge enforcement team. And they’re working overtime. And trust me, they don’t want to be. They want everyone to be in compliance because of the severity of the situation.”

Joe Vicari told 7 Action News after the meeting, “we just want to get our restaurants open honestly. We want to get our people back to work.”

Restaurants and bars were forced to shut down in the spring with rising COVID-19 cases. They were allowed to reopen in June at 50% capacity. The latest shutdown started two weeks ago and runs through Tuesday.

Industry leaders say 2,000 restaurants and bars have gone out of business statewide. Another 4,000 could follow if closing orders continue through December. That would also affect more than 100,000 employees.

Joe and Rosalie Vicari now want to negotiate a compromise with state officials and the Governor with more reduced capacity. Restaurants and bars are open in Ohio with reduced capacity.

Rosalie Vicari tells 7 Action News, “the shift became let’s try to work with the Governor, with the Legislature, with the Health Department, and how can we find additional safety guards and measures.”

During a hearing before the Legislative Joint Committee on COVID-19, the Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said industry leaders were consulted before the latest shutdown orders were issued.

Director Robert Gordon seems to suggest there’s no room for compromise adding, “with the levels of spread that we have in Michigan right now there is no way.”

Joe Vicari responded to us saying, “I don’t know what conversation was done prior to that but this is a new conversation.”

Vicari wants to meet before next Tuesday before any new shutdown could be issued.

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association sued to reopen. Federal Judge Paul Maloney ruled against reopening over safety.