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Ingham County relaxes emergency order but still continues restaurant capacity restriction

Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 3:27 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The previous Ingham County emergency order to stop the spread of COVID-19 has now been replaced with a new one. Now, restaurant capacity is reduced to 50 percent or no more than 125 people. Prior to, it was the mandate that reduced restaurant capacity would be 50 percent or no more than 75 people.

“Since I issued the original emergency order, cases have trended downward,” said Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail. “We’ve had time now for restaurant inspectors to work with our large capacity establishments, and these establishments have had time to adjust. New executive orders with more restaurant safeguards have also been issued. I hope we can loosen capacity restrictions again in the coming weeks, but we could tighten them once again if cases increase.”

As it stands, Executive Order 2020-143 restricts restaurant capacity to 50 percent of normal seating, but it does not impose a limitation. This order directly affects large licensed food service establishments with capacities of more than 250. Now with the new order (Ingham2020-12), food service establishment cannot have more than 125 patrons at one time.

State law grants Ingham County Health Officer Vail the authority to issue orders to protect public health under Section 2453 of the Public Health Code (MCL 333.2453). Anyone who disregards the order could be subject to a misdemeanor. This could include up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $200.

Greg Sinicropi co-owner of Art’s Pub in Lansing says he feels that the new order won’t make a big enough difference to help businesses.

“At 50% your just not seeing the crowds that you’re used to seeing. We all are experiencing a large amount of take out and especially us the places that have a patio the seating outside so that’s been kind of the model. We’re all trying to adjust so that order going from back from 75 to 125 I don’t think it’s going to really affect a whole lot of us,” said Sinicropi.

Sinicropi says business owners are working to adjust to the ever changing rules and just want to make sure their customers feel safe.

“So I think most of us are all finally coming to the realization that this is going to be long term and we’re all kind of digging in and how to figure out how to be carryout restaurants. And I think that’s becoming the new norm, its what were all doing to try to figure out a way to make it so that people want to come out again so that they safe and comfortable,” added Sinicropi.

If the new order goes well Vail says the department is prepared to continue increasing the amount of people allowed inside restaurants.

If you are in need of coronavirus testing, contact a primary care physician or visit a no-cost testing site.

A list of available testing sites can be found here.

The health department and Ingham Community Health Centers also host regular testing events.

Copyright 2020 WILX. All rights reserved.

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