Coronavirus Chronicles — Mom, When Can We Go Out to Eat?

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.

Caution advised

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.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Some Michigan restaurants are deciding not to reopen for indoor dining, even though it’s allowed,”, 02/05/21
Source: “Why Opening Restaurants Is Exactly What the Coronavirus Wants Us to Do,”, 02/06/21
Image by Eden, Janine and Jim/CC BY 2.0

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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