Ingham County to reduce occupancy limits by half in bars and restaurants
The Ingham County Health Department is now requiring all food service establishments to reduce their legal occupancy load by 50 percent. The mandate will go into effect at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 16, and will last until April 5 at 5 p.m.
State law gives Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail the authority to establish this new parameter. Those who disregard the order could be subject to a misdemeanor that includes up to 90 days in jail and fines up to $200.
“This is a social distancing measure and is necessary to ‘flatten the curve’,” said Vail. “We know this virus is in our community, likely undetected in some cases. We need proactive actions including reductions in occupancy load to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
Food service establishments include but are not limited to: restaurants, bars, church dining halls, schools, carry out, catering, country clubs, banquet halls, and fraternal organizations. Healthcare facilities, long-term care facilities and grocery stores are exempt from the reduction in occupancy load.
"Flattening the curve" refers to a concerted effort to make sure a large segment of the population does not become ill at the same time. Widespread infections would burden the health care system immensely.
Although many may still contract COVID-19 over time, ensuring there is sufficient health care capacity through the course of the pandemic will drastically reduce fatalities.
Those with questions or concerns are encouraged to contact the Ingham County Health Department.