(WXYZ) — Federal Judge Paul Maloney will issue a ruling as early as Tuesday on whether he will issue a preliminary injunction against Michigan that would allow bars and restaurants to reopen with COVID-19 restrictions.
Maloney has given attorneys for the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association until noon Tueday to review a state summary judgment filed in a Michigan Court of Claims lawsuit that also questions the authority of the governor's administration and State Health Director to issue emergency orders.
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.
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.
"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," MRLA President & CEO Justin Winslow said.
"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," Winslow said. "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."
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