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Up-North Restaurants and Bars to Open Under New Executive Order

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Laura J. Genovich and Cody A. Mott
Foster Swift Legal Update E-blast
May 20, 2020

Michigan CoronavirusGovernor Whitmer recently signed into effect Executive Order 2020-92 (“EO 2020-92”). The latest executive order marks the start of Michigan’s reopening under the Governor’s MI Safe Start Plan, which separates Michigan into 8 different regions and provides that restrictions may be relaxed for different regions at different times. EO 2020-92 formalizes the regions and loosens restrictions on the state's two northern-most regions – Regions 6 and 8. Region 6 encompasses the greater-Traverse City area and the northern counties of the Lower Peninsula. Region 8 is the entire Upper Peninsula.

Individuals in all other regions are relatively unaffected by the changes in EO 2020-92 and remain under stricter stay-at-home restrictions. Individuals from regions other than 6 and 8 are not permitted to travel to restaurants, bars, and retail stores in Regions 6 and 8. However, the restrictions and measures put in place on establishments in these regions serve as a likely model for how the rest of the state will reopen.

Beginning May 22, individuals in Regions 6 and 8 can go a restaurant, bar, or retail store, and have social gatherings of up to ten people. Those businesses, along with the critical infrastructure work and other resumed activities, may operate but are subject to enhanced social distancing and mitigation measures under Executive Order 2020-91. In addition to the state orders, local governments may continue to impose further restrictions on restaurants and bars.

Offices may also begin to reopen in Regions 6 and 8 to allow in-person work, but only to the extent that the work is not capable of being performed remotely.

Safeguards for All Businesses

All businesses that operate in-person must develop a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan. Each business must make this plan available to employees, labor, unions, and customers by the later of (1) June 1, 2020, or (2) two weeks after resuming in-person activities. What is required in the plan depends on the exposure risk for each business. Other requirements for all businesses can be found here.

Please contact your Foster Swift attorney for help drafting your COVID-19 preparedness and response plan.

Safeguards for Restaurants and Bars

In addition to the safeguards put in place for all businesses, restaurants and bars must observe certain industry specific safety precautions. Employers must also provide notices to customers, and training and equipment to staff.

Safety Precautions

  • Limit capacity to 50% of normal seating.
  • Require 6 feet of separation between parties.
  • Close waiting areas and ask customers to remain in their cars until their table is ready.
  • Use physical guides like tape and signage to keep customers 6 feet apart.
  • Install physical barriers at cash registers, bars, host stands, and other areas where it is difficult to remain 6 feet apart.
  • Limit shared items like menus and clean high-contact areas, such as tables and chairs.
  • Close self-serve food and drink options.

Customer Notifications

  • Use signs or pamphlets to inform customers of changes and extra precautions.
  • Post signs asking customers to not enter if they are or have recently been sick.
  • Instruct customers to wear face coverings until they are seated.

Employee Training and Notification; Employer Duties

  • Require hosts and servers to wear face coverings; require other employees to wear face coverings and gloves when in the kitchen area.
  • Train employees on appropriate use of personal protection equipment in conjunction with food safety guidelines.
  • Train employees on food safety health protocols.
  • Train employees how to manage symptomatic customers.
  • Notify employees if an individual with a confirmed case of COVID-19 has visited the store.
  • Close the restaurant for deep cleaning if an employee shows symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Require doctor’s written release for an employee that is returning to work after a confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • Limit the number of employees in a shared space to the maximum distance possible.

Safeguards for Retail Stores

Similar to restaurants and bars, retail stores must observe certain safety precautions, provide notices to customers, and provide training and equipment to staff. Additionally, retail stores remain required to consider establishing curbside pick-up as a way to reduce in-store traffic and outdoor lines.

Safety Precautions

  • Adhere to size restrictions for the number of people in the store (including employees) based on size of customer floor space.
    • Stores with less than 50,000 square feet – 25% of occupancy;
    • Stores with more than 50,000 square feet – limit of 4 people per 1,000 square feet of customer space and create at least 2 hours each week of shopping time for vulnerable people.
  • Establish lines to regulate entry. Use markings to keep customers at least 6 feet apart while waiting in line. Alternatively, have customers wait in their cars and text or call them when they may enter the store.
  • Install physical barriers at checkout and other service points. This includes Plexiglas barriers, tape markers, and tables, as appropriate.
  • Design spaces in the store to encourage employees and customers to remain 6 feet apart.
  • Establish enhanced cleaning and sanitizing protocols for high touch areas.
  • Limit the number of staff to the minimum amount necessary to operate.

Customer Notifications

  • Create communications that inform customers of changes to store practices and explains the precautions being taken.
  • Post signs at the entrance instructing customers of their legal obligation to wear a face covering.
  • Post signs informing customers to not enter if they are or recently have been sick.

Employee Training and Notifications

  • Train employees on appropriate cleaning procedures.
  • Train employees on how to manage symptomatic customers that may be in or enter the store.
  • Notify employees if an individual, such as an employee, customer, or supplier, with a confirmed case of COVID-19, has visited the store.

Safeguards for Office Workers

Offices must provide safeguards that encourage social distancing and reduces contact between employees. Specific steps must be taken for when employees arrive and when they are in the workplace.

Employee Arrival

Employers who operate in office buildings must:

  • Assign dedicated entry points for employees to reduce congestion at one entrance.
  • Provide visual indicators like tape markings to show appropriate spacing for employees outside the building in case of congestion.
  • Reduce entry congestion created by the screening process by staggering start times, adopting a rotational schedule, or other appropriate steps.

In the Workplace

Once in the workplace, offices must:

  • Require face coverings in shared spaces; this includes hallways, meetings, and bathrooms.
  • Spread out workspaces to increase distance between employees.
  • Restrict non-essential spaces like cafeterias.
  • Provide cues to guide movement and activity. For instance, use visual cues to restrict elevator capacity and lock conference rooms to prevent in-person meetings.
  • Turn off water fountains.
  • Prohibit social gatherings and meetings that do not allow for social distancing.
  • Restrict non-essential travel and in-person conference events.
  • Suspend non-essential visitors.
  • Institute cleaning and communication protocols for if an employee is sent home with symptoms.
  • Disinfect high-touch surfaces and minimize shared items when possible.

Required Notifications and Supplies

Offices must also provide certain notifications and supplies. This requires offices to:

  • Post signs about the importance of personal hygiene.
  • Notify employees if an individual, including a worker, customer, supplier, or visitor, with a confirmed case of COVID-19 visited the office.
  • Provide disinfecting supplies and require employees to wipe down their work stations at least twice daily.

Foster Swift’s attorneys are ready to help you with any questions you have regarding this communication or how to safely reopen your business. Please contact your Foster Swift attorney or one of the coronavirus coordinators listed below:

This article is current as of time of publication. Due to rapidly changing circumstances and updated regulations, we encourage you to confirm with your attorney and/or other advisors to make sure you are operating with the most current information.