LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association (MRLA) has released a two part plan to eventually reach normalcy within the hospitality industry.
The first part, is creating a schedule that links occupancy with the state's daily positivity rate. The schedule suggests 50 percent occupancy can be safely done when the positivity rate is lower than 10 percent. Wednesday, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's Chief Medical Executive, said the positivity rate was 3.9 percent during a press conference.
"25 percent capacity is not a recipe for success," said Justin Winslow, the president of the MRLA, "It's not even a recipe for for sustaining or hanging on, it's a recipe to make people aware that you exist still."
The second part of the MRLA's plan is to increase the vaccination priority for hospitality workers. The goal is to move them to the "other essential frontline workers" category in 1B, much of which is already being vaccinated.
"I think the workforce and those working in this industry should indeed feel safe to come back to work," said Winslow, "It's a very public facing industry that requires the trust of the general public."
Some restaurant owners agree. Chris Andrus, the co-owner of the Mitten Brewing Company in Grand Rapids said the MRLA plan "makes sense."
"25 percent, 50 percent, nobody gets back to making any money until we're at 100 percent," said Andrus, "And I don't think that's going to come without broad vaccinations and herd immunity. Some priority for us would be warranted, because we can't do our jobs from home."
Governor Gretchen Whitmer address the MRLA's plan during a COVID-19 update press conference Wednesday. She said her team will always take the input, but the goal is to get the Michigan Legislature to pass the Michigan COVID Recovery Plan.
"I understand the desire to raise the voice, and to give some input," said Whitmer, "And we’ll always take that input and make it part of the conversation we are having. We will also stay clearly focused on the numbers, data, and monitor where we are."
The Small Business Association of Michigan's president, Brian Calley, issued this statement in response to the MRLA's plan:
“The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association plan provides a strong, data-driven approach to reopening for some of the hardest-hit industries. Restaurants, lodging, and event/meeting-based businesses need to know what the standards are that keep them closed or limited in their operations, and when restrictions will be eased. These metrics establish those standards in an objective way, keeping public health and safety front and center.”
Winslow said he hopes the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will take this plan into consideration when making future orders about the hospitality industry.
"It holds them accountable," said Winslow, "But it also gives them reason to suggest if things go in the other direction, and God forbid, but if they do, that there's a justification that they either need to go backwards, or even close down portions of the industry again, because there's a plan in place that's clear."
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