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New restaurant, bar restrictions causing worry

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ executive order that dictates restaurants must be able to contact customers if there’s a COVID-19 case linked to the establishment is causing some concern.

The MDHHS says restaurants, bars and other venues must seat no more than six people at a table, with the state noting that indoor settings are more likely to cause outbreaks.

However, the order also requires restaurants and bars to take the names and contact information of patrons to support contact tracing if needed.

Is this cumbersome?

The Marquette Downtown Development Authority said it’s willing to offer guidance and signage to member businesses that need advice on complying with the restrictions.

But how about the customers who might believe their privacy is being invaded?

According to an Associated Press article, the Michigan Restaurants & Lodging Association insists COVID-19 transmission isn’t common at restaurants and predicts job losses and more financial problems because of the requirement.

At least one eatery, Towners Pastry & Chocolate Shoppe in Gwinn, is not happy with the new order. It said in a Facebook post it is returning to drive-through only with online ordering available, and its hours are 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

“It is not our job to invade our customers’ privacy by taking down their names, numbers and times they were in our store,” the post reads. “We feel this is breaking your constitutional right. We also do not have the staffing to cover such things. We appreciate your understanding and have faith that we will survive this next wave of ‘new normal.'”

We see the importance of contact tracing and safety, but also understand some restaurants’ reluctance to taking on more tasks.

Maybe the best most of us can do in this “new normal” is to comply with the order and hope COVID-19 does not continue to spike uncontrollably, possibly resulting in stricter requirements.

We don’t need more COVID fatigue.

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