Michigan bars and restaurants will have to start tracking customers’ names and phone numbers starting Monday to make contact tracing easier as part of the state’s effort to mitigate the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
The new rule, which goes into effect on Nov. 2, was put in place last week by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). Michigan hit a record of new daily infections last week, with the agency announcing that on Oct. 31, there were 3,792 new cases. As of Oct. 29, Michigan’s test positivity rate increased to 5.5 percent from around 2 percent, and the state currently has around 172 infections per million people.
“Because individuals remove their masks while eating and drinking in indoor settings, seated tables with people from different households create high risks of spread,” the agency wrote in a release. “Like many other businesses in Michigan, bars and restaurants will also be required to take names and contact information to support effective contact tracing if necessary.”
Other restrictions announced by the department include reducing the limit on non-residential indoor gatherings without fixed seating from 500 to 50 people, and restricting individual table sizes at restaurants to six people.
“The only way to beat COVID is to act on what we’ve learned since March,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon, in a statement. “Wear masks. Keep six feet of distance. Wash hands. And avoid the indoor get-togethers where we have seen COVID explode.”
Scott Ellis, executive director of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, told FOX 17 that the new restrictions place an added burden on businesses already struggling to turn a profit amid the pandemic.
“Our frontline servers have already had trouble dealing with masks and mandates and mandating masks,” Ellis told the outlet. “We did deescalation training and all kinds of other things to help with that and now we’re taking to the next level. We have to gather someone’s personal information?”
“I think when you’re going to sit down at a restaurant you just don’t expect someone to take your name and number because you’re coming to have a drink or a burger,” he added.
Businesses found to be in violation of the new restrictions face a fine up to $1,000. Infractions may also be treated as a misdemeanor and punished by up to six months behind bars and/or a fine of up to $200.
Violation of the rules is also grounds for pulling a bar or restaurant operator’s business license and may be treated as a violation of workplace safety requirements.