The businesses that are required to keep personal information include restaurants, recreational facilities, entertainment establishments and other businesses like barbershops and tattoo parlors. Michigan health authorities say that the businesses need to do this to aid the state’s contract tracing program.
The contact tracing mandate means that, before people sit down to eat at any restaurant in Michigan, they have to surrender their names and phone numbers to the business they're going to dine in.
The contact tracing mandate cames as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer rolled back the state’s reopening plan and tightened up its Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. Whitmer’s administration has reimposed many lockdown protocols amidst rising coronavirus deaths and hospitalizations. (Related: BREAKING: California judge slaps down Gov. Newsom's unconstitutional COVID lockdowns and mandates, issues INJUNCTION against further Newsom tyranny.)
The state justified the new mandate by stating that indoor establishments such as restaurants are 20 times more likely to be the cause of new coronavirus outbreaks.
“I think it’s an invasion of privacy myself,” said a customer at a restaurant in southern Michigan. “It should be up to the individual what you want to do.”
“We’re doing what we’re being told to do,” said another customer. “We have no choice.”
Along with the mandate, the number of people allowed to gather at indoor venues was reduced from 500 to 50. The state’s face mask mandate has also been renewed.
The state has also released a series of recommendations for any upcoming social gatherings, especially during Thanksgiving. These include strong recommendations for gatherings to be held outside, for gatherings to be limited to no more than 10 people and two households, for social distancing guidelines to be respected and for people to avoid shouting and screaming, as the high volume can increase COVID-19 transmission by up to 30 times.
Jeff Lobdell, president of Restaurant Partners Management and manager of 12 restaurants in western Michigan with nearly 500 employees, says that Whitmer and the state government are putting an undue amount of blame on dine-in restaurants for the renewed coronavirus outbreaks in the state while leaving a lot of other businesses unscathed.
“I think we’ve been vilified to a degree that all these orders are going on sit-down restaurants and not other places,” said Lobdell. “So, it kind of leads the public to question just how safe are you at restaurants, and you’re very safe.”
Lobdell says he doesn’t understand why Whitmer doesn’t trust restaurants, because as far as he is aware no restaurant in Michigan has done anything to deserve this much regulation.
“We take a lot of pride in what we do,” he added. “We take pride in our sanitation and our safety.”
One of Lobdell's main concerns is that the new contact tracing mandate puts restaurant staff in a position where they have to be the enforcers of this new rule. Some customers might find the mandate invasive and may put restaurant staff in harm's way.
What makes the situation worse is that the new rules are being implemented without a lot of time for businesses to adjust. Lobdell is complaining about why there wasn’t any warning or guidance before the contact tracing mandate was put into place.
Despite this, Lobdell has no choice but to follow the new regulations as best as he can, especially since the coronavirus lockdowns have put a strain on his ability to keep his businesses open. He is now figuring out how to make the situation more palatable for customers at his restaurants.
“We are cherished community gathering places and we’re open for business and we’re doing things the right way,” said Lobdell. “We’re a little disappointed that this order comes out and it targets sit down restaurants … We don’t like to be targeted as a non-safe space.”
Learn more about how governments are using renewed COVID-19 outbreaks as justifications for reimposing crushing lockdowns and other coronavirus restrictions at Pandemic.news.