Last fall, indoor dining was halted in Michigan. The state Restaurant and Lodging Association sued the director of Health and Human Services, claiming that to target the industry in this way was unconstitutional. But the judge said people have to remove their protective face coverings to eat, so restaurant interiors should not be open to customers.
In Detroit, the married owners of a pizza parlor both work there (with one other employee) so that is where their young children hang out during the day, doing virtual school. Fortunately, many customers were already used to thinking of pizza as a takeout meal, so the business has been sustainable since November’s indoor closing. The governor announced February 1 as reopening day, but these parents are not comfortable with the risk and plan to continue with takeout only.
Adaptability, the #1 survival skill
The indoor restaurant of a boutique brewery is not reopening yet, either, out of consideration for the employee’s health, and also because an old friend of the owner, who had a similar place in another city, died of the virus. When the general vaccination rate goes up, the management will reconsider.
Still, craft beer connoisseurs are different from pizza enthusiasts. They want more than a curbside pickup. They want to hang out and socialize. So the establishment added some heated outdoor seating. It gets expensive, but these days, entrepreneurs consider themselves lucky to find any solution that allows staying in business.
At Detroit’s Yum Village, Chef Godwin Ihentuge handled the November ruling with explosive creativity, initiating a number of new products and services including African drumming classes, a podcast, and carry-out Afro-Caribbean “TV dinners” that have proved to be incredibly popular.
Writer Caroline Chen interviewed 10 scientists about letting restaurants open, and their opinion was generally unfavorable, with some extreme reactions like “completely reckless” and “the worst is yet to come.” Both of those quoted comments are from Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Georgetown University’s Center for Global Health Science and Security.
People are displaying an unwarranted amount of bravery, when the grounds for confidence may not be there at all, and might in fact be quicksand, sucking us into ever greater peril. There seems to be a belief that having been a COVID-19 victim gives immunity, which is by no means confirmed. Chen says,
[S]tudy after study has identified indoor spaces — particularly restaurants, where consistent masking is not possible — as some of the highest-risk locations for transmission to occur. Even with distanced tables, case studies have shown that droplets can travel long distances…
Making the situation much worse, the virus branches out into variants, which then mutate and become new variants, and science can’t keep up. The writer quotes Michael Osterholm, of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, who understands every risk and speaks in mixed but appropriate metaphors:
We are so good at pumping the brakes after we’ve wrapped the car around the tree. There’s still a lot of human wood out there for this coronavirus to burn.
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Source: “Some Michigan restaurants are deciding not to reopen for indoor dining, even though it’s allowed,” MetroTimes.com, 02/05/21
Source: “Why Opening Restaurants Is Exactly What the Coronavirus Wants Us to Do,” ProPublica.org, 02/06/21
Image by Eden, Janine and Jim/CC BY 2.0