Bumstead introduces data-driven opening plan for Michigan restaurants

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Jon Bumstead on Wednesday formally introduced legislation that was crafted in conjunction with the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association and would provide a metrics-based approach to returning to normal business operations.

“The MRLA took a major step toward normalizing operations for this industry,” said Bumstead, R-Newaygo. “I found the plan to be thoughtful and carefully put together based on scientific data. This plan outlines what metrics are being used, which will provide certainty to business owners and allow them to make sound decisions and keep their doors open.”

The hospitality industry is Michigan’s second-largest private sector industry and one of the most important in the state. It was also one of the hardest hit industries by the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shutdowns. Over the past year, MRLA reported 3,000 restaurants have permanently closed and 200,000 jobs have been lost.

Senate Bill 250 would implement the MRLA’s data-driven plan and outline how to safely open the doors of Michigan’s struggling restaurants and hospitality businesses. The bill provides metrics for how and when restaurants may open and at what capacity and a basis for temporary closure when case numbers get too high.

The legislation does not include curfews for restaurants, and contract tracing is encouraged, not mandatory.

“The goal was to provide a clear-cut pathway for businesses moving forward,” Bumstead said. “The positivity rate has hovered in the low single digits, yet we’ve continued to see a confusing approach that is not transparent and that restricts folks from running their businesses.”

Bumstead said businesses need certainty moving forward and the administration simply has not provided the information that business owners need if they are to safely open their doors.

“I agree that using science and data is the best approach; unfortunately, residents, lawmakers and business owners aren’t able to see what metrics the administration is using to make decisions,” Bumstead said. “This legislation clearly outlines what information will be used and how it will be used, and it is a strong step toward safely lifting current restrictions.”

SB 250 was referred to the Senate Committee on Economic and Small Business Development for further consideration.

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