Michigan restaurants will have to begin tracking the names and numbers of customers in case of COVID-19 outbreaks starting Monday under a policy announced Thursday as the state experiences surges in cases of the virus.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services unveiled orders that limit non-residential indoor gatherings without fixed seating to 50 people — the limit was 500 — and restrict individual table sizes at restaurants to six people.
The health department’s order on Thursday came on a day when Michigan set a daily case record at 3,675, along with 41 more deaths. That’s the most new confirmed cases in a single day during the seven-month pandemic for the state.
The coronavirus trends in Michigan are “incredibly concerning,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive. As of Wednesday, the state reported 1,348 adults with COVID-19 in hospitals, three times the 405 adults with COVID-19 in hospitals one month ago.
“We are taking targeted actions via the order to address areas that are particularly severe sources of spread, and we are issuing guidance that is a very clear road map for what we need to do bring cases down,” said Robert Gordon, the director of the Department of Health and Human Services.
In addition, Thursday’s order moves the 17-county Traverse City region back to Phase 4 in the state’s economic reopening plan. Previously, that region was the only one in Phase 5, a status that brought some eased restrictions on masks in schools and gatherings.
For bars, restaurants and social events outside private homes, indoor party sizes at a single table will be restricted to six people. Bars and restaurants will also be required to take names and contact information from customers to support contact tracing if necessary, a press release said. Contact tracing is the act of tracking individuals who’ve been near individuals who later test positive for COVID-19.
The new order reads: “All dine-in food service establishments must maintain accurate records of the names and phone numbers of patrons who purchase food for consumption on the premises, and the date and time of entry.”
The orders require restaurants, along with schools and other businesses, to provide names and phone numbers of individuals with possible COVID-19 exposure to local health officials “to aid in contact tracing and case investigation efforts.”
There are 12 outbreaks in Michigan associated with bars or restaurants, according to the state’s press release.
The department’s new orders also reduce from 500 people to 50 people the maximum gathering size for indoor gatherings, such as weddings, parties and banquets, which occur in nonresidential settings without fixed seating.