LANSING — A Michigan restaurant advocacy group is one of three plaintiffs that have filed a lawsuit against the state health department over COVID-19 emergency orders.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court by the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association and is seeking to overturn restrictions that will impact restaurants and bars in the coming weeks.
MRLA President and CEO Justin Winslow said this lawsuit was the last resort.
“We have taken this action only after careful deliberation and as the last available option to prevent the outright devastation of restaurant operators and their hundreds of thousands of employees across the state,” he said. “While our proposal would undeniably challenge an already beleaguered industry, it was presented to Director Gordon and the executive office of the governor in earnest to stave off the far worse impact of outright closure.”
The group said that they had already taken several steps to increase restrictions in the bars and restaurants by offering to reduce capacity to 25 percent and implement a 10 p.m. curfew.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs argue that the closures of bars and restaurants do not accomplish the goal of protecting public health.
“The ostensible purpose of the November 15 order is to prevent person-to-person contact and spread of COVID-19,” the lawsuit said. “But the threat or likelihood of such contact and spread does not depend on whether a business activity is deemed by the government to be essential. That threat depends on the health and safety measures being taken by business owners to mitigate the threat.”
The association also cited MDHHS data that shows only 4.5 percent of all outbreaks could be attributed to restaurants.
The other two plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Suburban Inns and Heirloom, a Detroit restaurant and hospitality company.