By ZEINAB NAJM
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer closed indoor service at bars throughout most of lower Michigan in response to the uptick of coronavirus cases at bars and to protect the progress the state has made against the virus.
The change comes after she signed an executive order July 1, which took effect that night.
Nightclubs, strip clubs and traditional bars do not have to close their doors completely, but have to end indoor service. They can offer outdoor seating and under new laws signed by Whitmer, bars and restaurants are allowed to sell cocktails-to-go and expand social districts to allow for more outdoor seating and areas, a press release said.
Brewpubs, distilleries and vineyards can remain open indoors.
Local restaurants, barbershops, salons, bars and retail stores had started returning to normal after Whitmer lifted restrictions on the businesses last month placed due to the pandemic.
Roman Village, 9924 Dix Ave. in Dearborn, and Antonio’s Cucina Italiana, 26356 Ford Road in Dearborn Heights, reopened their dinning rooms at half capacity, per Whitmer’s executive order pertaining to restaurants. They were allowed to do so June 8.
The limitations on restaurants were made effective March 16, keeping delivery and carryout options available with some choosing to add curbside pick-up.
Patrick Rugiero, one of the owners of the restaurant group said the businesses never fully closed, and that delivery was added at the Antonio’s.
Also, curbside pickup became an option for customers at both restaurants, which Rugiero said is going to stay even after the pandemic restrictions are lifted.
“Curbside was something a lot of people were happy about,” he said. “It’s convenient, especially for anyone with kids who would have to get out of their cars for a two-minute pickup.”
Although the pandemic presented some challenges, Rugiero said some positive changes have happened as a result. He cited the curbside pickup and heightened attention on hygiene.
“We’ve always been vigilant with sanitation, which now people are more conscious about,” Rugiero said. “All staff are wearing masks and that is something we require from customers as well when they enter the restaurants.”
Both locations are operating at half capacity with normal hours for lunch and dinner.
“The closure of the dinning room had a huge impact on us, even as carryout and delivery orders grew,” Rugiero said. “Customers coming in to enjoy their meal inside the dinning room is still our bread and butter. Our business did not come back to what it was, even while operating the dinning room at half capacity.”
Mexican Fiesta, 24310 Ford Road in Dearborn Heights, closed its dining room June 29 because there were multiple situations where their staff was disrespected and treated rudely, a Facebook post read.
“The safety of our customers and staff is out number one priority we we have made the tough decision of closing our doors to the general public until further notice,” the post also read.
Another industry that Whitmer allowed to open was barbershops and salons, which barber Ali Alhashemi did immediately June 15. Whitmer’s executive order for barbershops and similar businesses closed them March 22.
He is also the owner and operator of Uppercutz Barbershop, 15011 Warren Ave, Uppercutz Barbershop 2, 15031 Warren Ave. both in Dearborn and UC Hair Factory, 6870 N. Telegraph Road in Dearborn Heights.
Hours have remained the same at the barbershops, but only one customer per barber is allowed into the shops at a time and employees are now wearing masks.
Remaining customers must wait outside and receive a phone call when it’s their turn to enter the shop. All customers are required to wear a mask during their haircuts and only remove them if they are getting their beard cut.
Alhashemi reflected on the coronavirus impact.
“I feel that so many people belittled the power of the virus and now that we’re open it feels great, but everyone should take this very seriously and take the necessary precautions,” he said.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])