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Survey found 40% of MI restaurants may not reopen under tighter capacity restrictions

Posted at 5:54 AM, Feb 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-01 06:14:07-05

(WXYZ) — Michigan bars and restaurants can once again allow people to dine indoors. It comes after the state halted indoor dining in mid-November due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The rules for restaurants include no more than 25% seating capacity, a limit of 100 people and a 10 p.m. curfew.

While many restaurants are planning to reopen for indoor dining, the seating capacity has some owners saying "income won't cover expenses," and feel their best option is to stay closed.

"This is a music venue. It's always been designed, since I've owned it anyways, to bring people together. and that's the last thing you wanna do during COVID was try to bring people together," Paul "PJ" Ryder, the owner of PJ's Lager House in Corktown said.

Through multiple state-mandated shutdowns and several self-imposed closures because of COVID-19 concerns, Ryder said it's been a year of ups and downs.

At PJ's Lager House, the 25% capacity means about 37 people inside at a time, and with people still saying home, he says reopening wasn't even worth it under previous less strict restrictions.

"We're going to stay closed with the hope that in the next month to two months we start to see some real progress on COVID," he said.

"There's a lot of overheard that goes into reopening your restaurant. Bringing back and training staff. bringing a whole bunch of inventory back in house, and resanitizing and preparing your location," Justin Winslow, president of the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, said.

Winslow said feedback from establishments polled last week about whether they'd be willing to reopen under new restrictions is telling.

"That number is only about 60 percent of restaurants right now. I think 25 percent is a challenging number for some," he said. So, 40% aren't willing to reopen.

So, how much longer can PJ's Lager House hold on?

"I think if we can get things together by mid-summer we can be fine," he said.

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