Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer quietly extended restaurant restrictions to March 29, it was reported Wednesday.
Michigan restaurants were allowed to reopen inside seating at 25 percent capacity with a 10 p.m. curfew on Feb. 1. The restrictions originally were to end Feb. 21.
However, the state hid an extension of the restrictions to March 29 behind Whitmer's announcement to restart high school contact sports earlier this month, per mlive.com.
"She did it under the radar, but we were aware of it," said Charles Owens, Michigan director of the National Federation of Independent Business. "The shiny object was the high school sports starting up again."
The resumption of sports announcement on Feb. 4 did not mention the order being extended for restaurants.
A Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson confirmed Wednesday that the restaurant restrictions had been extended.
Owens said the extension could deal a fatal blow to restaurants limping along during the pandemic.
Michigan, which prohibited indoor dining Nov. 18 through Jan. 31, became one of the last states to allow eateries to reopen.
"It just further exacerbates the problems that that particular industry is having," Owens said. "We weren't surprised. We were disappointed."
On Wednesday, the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association proposed a plan that would tie reopenings and restrictions to the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests. Under the plan, restaurants would be allowed to reopen at 100 percent capacity without restrictions once the state dipped below a 3 percent positivity rate.
Michigan's positivity rate had dropped to a seven-day average of 3.5 percent.
Whitmer had said the easing of restrictions would be based on comprehensive data with full context in mind, and not automatic triggers connected to specific data points.
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