MRLA Outlines Reopening Plan for Hospitality Industry

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association in Lansing has released a two-pronged, metric-driven plan designed to eventually restore normal operations within the hospitality industry. It is meant to offer a solution to elected officials that will enable hotel and restaurant operators who have been hit by COVID-19 to remain in business.
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The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association has released a plan designed to restore normal operations within the hospitality industry. // Stock photo

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association in Lansing has released a two-pronged, metric-driven plan designed to eventually restore normal operations within the hospitality industry. It is meant to offer a solution to elected officials that will enable hotel and restaurant operators who have been hit by COVID-19 to remain in business.

The plan was completed after, according to MLive, indoor dining restrictions for restaurants were extended to March 29. The extension was not publicly announced but was part of updated restrictions Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer put in place when she announced the resumption of high school contact sports on Feb. 4.

The restrictions keep Michigan restaurants at 25 percent capacity with a 10 p.m. curfew until the end of March. The restrictions were originally slated to expire on Feb. 21. The most recent order can be viewed here.

As a continuation of the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association’s #MISafeDining initiative, the first step of the association’s plan is the creation of a reintegration schedule that ties restaurant and event space to the COVID-19 Daily Positive Test Rate, which is reported by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The test rate data for the state can be viewed here.

“We have long advocated the need for a more comprehensive strategy for the economic reintegration of our restaurants, banquet centers, and entertainment venues in Michigan,” says Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the MLRA. “Through this plan, we are putting our metrics where our mouth is and hope it proves a useful tool to elected leaders as we enter a new phase of the pandemic.”

The second step of the plan focuses on a systemic and expedited vaccination of the hospitality industry employees as “other essential frontline workers,” as named by MDHHS. There is a precedence in prioritizing hospitality workers for the vaccine. The association says states with similarly prolonged industry shutdowns such as Colorado, New York, and Massachusetts have already begun the targeted vaccination of the hospitality industry.

The plan has garnered approval from the National Federation of Independent Business in Nashville and the Small Business Association of Michigan in Lansing.

“The hospitality professionals at the MRLA have worked hard to offer up a sensible plan for getting Michigan’s most beleaguered segment of small business back to work,” says Charlie Owens, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business. “The plan relies on the metrics being used by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for making pandemic related decisions.”

Brian Calley, president of the Small Business Association of Michigan, agreed: “The Michigan Restaurant and 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.”

The association provides services to the foodservice and lodging community. It was founded in 1921 and represents more than 5,000 Michigan foodservice and lodging establishments across the state. The industry employs more than 595,000 people and creates nearly $40 billion in annual sales.

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