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State dining mandate draws mixed response

Patrick Digneit, who with his wife Alyssa owns DIGS Spirits & Streetfood, located at 154 W. Washington St., Marquette, on Sunday handles a takeout chicken sandwich order from patron Corey Kelly of Marquette. DIGS is asking people to patronize local businesses following the recent order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for dine-in restaurants and bars to close temporarily to stem the surge in COVID-19 cases. (Journal photo by Christie Mastric)

MARQUETTE — A Michigan mandate that has forced dine-in restaurants and bars to close for the second time this year is getting a mixed response from industry leaders that worry the move could hurt businesses, The Associated Press reported on Sunday.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced the new order earlier this month as the number of cases and hospitalizations continue to rise. State law allows the agency to prohibit gatherings during an epidemic, MLive.com reported.

The ban, which went into effect Wednesday, will last for three weeks. But the state could decide to extend it, the AP said. The mandate also affects other businesses, including movie theaters, bowling alleys and high schools.

Some industry leaders say the ban won’t prevent people from getting COVID-19, while others think it is worth halting dine-in services to help the state.

Justin Winslow, who heads the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, said the ban will only encourage social events. Those gatherings are riskier than restaurants because they aren’t regulated with distancing, sanitization and capacity limits, Winslow said.

“Restaurants should be willing to do whatever it takes to get this thing stabilized so that we can get back to business as usual one day,” said Curt Catallo, co-owner of Union Joints, which has seven restaurants in metro Detroit.

Union Joints made an app for its customers to use to place their carryout orders. The goal is to not have to lay off any of its 700 employees, Catallo said.

Scott Ellis, executive director of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, said in a news release that the shutdown will be detrimental to small businesses.

“Our industry has been devastated and this is just another nail in the coffin for many businesses,” Ellis said.

Winslow said his association is upset about the new order when there is “no safety net of federal stimulus dollars to soften the blow to already ailing operators and employees.”

However, the Small Business Association of Michigan is giving at least $3 million in grants to small businesses to create outdoor spaces for their customers. Eligible businesses can receive $1,000 to $10,000.

Struggles are local as well.

Patrick and Alyssa Digneit own DIGS Spirits & Streetfood, located at 154 W. Washington St., Marquette.

DIGS acknowledged in a Facebook post on Saturday that it wants people to focus on the power they have as customers.

“The next few weeks are going to be a test for everyone, your local businesses, shops, restaurants, breweries, because this is traditionally the time when a lot of us make enough money to get us through the brutal January through April when the tourists are scared to come this way,” the post reads.

DIGS asks people to “shop local” for the next few weeks.

Businesses in Marquette will “figure out how to take your money — literally, just call and ask,” the post reads.

Latest NMU numbers released

The most recent cumulative numbers on Northern Michigan University’s Safe on Campus dashboard, found at https://nmu.edu/safe-on-campus/, show that between July 27 and Sunday, there have been 276 cumulative COVID-19 positive cases for a 3.66% positivity rate. These include 115 on-campus students, 131 off-campus students and 30 employees.

There are 71 active positive cases — 34 on-campus students, 24 off-campus students and 13 employees.

UPHS offering testing

UP Health System is offering COVID-19 testing center locations, with no prior physician orders needed.

UPHS operates a College Avenue Clinic at 420 W. Magnetic St., Marquette, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Call 906-449-1660.

The UPHS-Bell Clinic at 901 Lakeshore Drive, Suite 210, Ishpeming, runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 906-485-2749.

The UPHS-Bell Express Care site, 901 Lakeshore Drive, Ishpeming, runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Call 906-485-7777.

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