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Federal judge allows Michigan order closing dine-in service to take effect

The U.S. District Court judge denied a restraining order aimed at keeping restaurants fully open
Papillons decided to reclose their dining room for the safety of the workers, and their...
Papillons decided to reclose their dining room for the safety of the workers, and their customers.(wsaw)
Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 12:23 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - A federal judge denied an order to overturn Michigan’s coronavirus restriction closing dine-in service at restaurants, meaning the order will take effect.

The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association sought a temporary restraining order that would have allowed restaurants to continue serving patrons in their dining rooms. However, a federal judge denied the restraining order and the state’s restaurant restriction will proceed.

The Associated Press reported that Judge Paul Maloney doesn’t believe a restraining order is appropriate, especially when the state hasn’t responded to the restaurant association’s lawsuit.

Justin Winslow, president of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association, said the lack of a restraining order means more restaurant workers will lose their jobs in the coming days. He previously estimated that restaurants would lay off 250,000 people statewide with no dine-in service.

Parties will be back in court on Nov. 30 to present more arguments in the case. Winslow said the association remains “hopeful for a positive outcome that more effectively balances risk and human toll across Michigan.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a new Michigan Department of Health and Human Services epidemic order, which forces all restaurants statewide to close indoor dining facilities for three weeks from Wednesday through Dec. 8. They can remain open for drive-through or carryout service, however.

The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Tuesday seeking to stop the restriction on indoor dining.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon said he appreciates the judge’s ruling. He said orders similar to what his department imposed this week have slowed the spread of COVID-19 in other countries.

“That’s why public health experts support the approach, and we believe these targeted and temporary steps are needed to avoid overwhelmed hospitals and death counts like we saw in the spring,” Gordon said. “If all of us mask up and avoid indoor gatherings, we will not only save thousands of lives and protect our frontline health workers, but we’ll also be able to enjoy indoor restaurant dining without fear.”

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