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Group of Michigan restaurants, bars commit to COVID-19 safety guidelines, require mask use

The MI Restaurant Promise is a growing list of entities committed to following safety guidelines set by the state, local health departments and the CDC.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Dozens of Michigan bars and restaurants, including many in West Michigan, say they are committed to following strict COVID-19 safety guidelines set by the state, local health departments and the CDC. 

It's called the Michigan Restaurant Promise and was unveiled Thursday, July 2.

"As restaurant owners and managers, we feel a sense of responsibility for the health and well-being of our employees, our guests, and the community at large," according to a statement on the group's website.

The commitment includes a number of safety measures, including:

  • Daily staff wellness checks
  • Clean masks to be worn by all staff working with customers or in close quarters
  • Socially distanced tables 
  • Sanitizing and cleaning surfaces to the level of the CDC requirements
  • Transparency if a staff member tests positive for COVID-19
  • Limit groups to no more than 10 

In return, the businesses ask that patrons stay home if they are sick or if they have been in contact with someone who is, wear a face mask when moving about the business, social distance and read all posted notices and information provided at tables. 

For those unwilling to wear a mask, the group suggests they order takeout. The businesses also ask that patrons refrain from questioning staff about the enforcement of public health mandates in place. 

More than 80 restaurants are listed on the pledge, including Ando Sushi, Beltline Bar, Brewery Vivant, City Built Brewing Company, Daddy Pete's BBQ, Donkey Taqueria, Hancock, Max's South Seas Hideaway, Stella's Lounge, Terra GR, the Toasted Pickle, and the Mitten Brewing Company — among others. 

Restaurant groups including BarFly Ventures, Essence Restaurant Group and the Gilmore Collection committed to the pledge, as well. 

Announcing "The Michigan Restaurant Promise!" As restaurant owners ... and managers, we feel a sense of responsibility for the health and well-being of our employees, our guests, and the community at large. A desire to provide hospitality-the simple act of caring for our guests-is why many of us joined this industry to begin with.

"As a group, we are committed to upholding the guidelines set forth by the State of Michigan, local Health Departments, and the CDC," the website continued. "We view them not as infringements on our rights, but rather precautions we can all take to allow for our industry to re-open safely for our staff and our guests."

See the full pledge and which Michigan restaurants have signed it. 

The MI Restaurant Promise comes the day after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order that shuts down indoor service at lower Michigan bars in an effort to protect progress made against COVID-19. 

The order excludes regions 6 and 8, which include the Upper Peninsula and much of northern Michigan. That same day, the governor signed into law a bill that allows for bars and restaurants to sell to-go cocktails. Outdoor bar service will still be permitted statewide. That order went into effect at 11 p.m. Wednesday. 

The Grand Rapids and Lansing regions were moved into higher risks phases for COVID-19 on the state's MI Safe Start Map on Tuesday as cases per capita have increased in recent weeks.

The Lansing region saw new cases rise to over 40 cases per million people a day, and the Grand Rapids region is seeing over 20 new cases per million people a day. Because of that, Lansing was moved into a high risk phase, and Grand Rapids is now medium high risk.

Whitmer and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, both mentioned an outbreak at Harper's Restaurnt and Brewpub in East Lansing, during a Tuesday press conference. The Lansing State Journal reports 107 cases are linked to Harper's. In Grand Rapids, several bars and restaurants have had to close temporarily after employees tested positive for the virus. 

RELATED: West Michigan restaurants temporarily closed due to COVID-19

“It’s frustrating to see bars and restaurants not enforcing the health and safety guidelines laid out to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” said Chris Andrus, owner of Mitten Brewing. “Those establishments threaten to undo the many sacrifices our community and industry have made and undermine the hard work of establishments like mine committed to keeping the public safe.”

“As restaurant owners and managers, we feel a sense of responsibility for the health and well-being of our employees, our guests and the community at large,” said Kris Spaulding, owner of Brewery Vivant. “That’s why we started this initiative – to show our communities we are taking this seriously and are committed to protecting their health and safety.”

The initiative is endorsed by the Kent County Health Department, Beer City Brewers Guild, Michigan Brewers Guild, the Grand Rapids, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc, Experience Grand Rapids, Grand Haven City Manager Pat McGinnis, Grand Haven Mayor Bob Monetza, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, and several other organizations. 

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