KALAMAZOO, Mich. — West Michigan restaurants are adapting to new epidemic orders passed down by the health department, some of those orders are going into effect Oct. 30, others not until Nov. 2.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said the new restrictions focus on social gatherings, where health experts said the virus is spreading the most.
The latest epidemic order states bars and restaurants can’t sit more than six people at a table.
Some Kalamazoo restaurants said they started their Friday morning making calls to guests who had reservations for more than six people. They said those parties have to be split up into separate tables now to follow the new guidelines.
Julie Stanley, owner and executive chef at Food Dance in Kalamazoo, said if large parties come in, they will have to sit at separate tables.
“I think parties of families that come in that are 10 are going to a hard time, but we’ll just split them up," Stanley said.
The order also requires businesses to start collecting customers phone numbers for contact tracing.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said this is one way to crack down on the spread of the virus.
"The only reason that contact information would be given is so that we can do contact tracing, that happens at the local level health department level," Whitmer said.
Many Kalamazoo restaurant owners said they are still trying to figure out how they will be able to collect all of their customers’ phone numbers.
That policy goes into effect Monday, Nov 2.
Stanley said her restaurant already collects that information from guests for reservations and wait lists.
“It is my understanding that we're to get one name and number out of the party, as opposed to everyone’s name because that’s fairy impossible to do if you ask me," she said.
Stanley said they use an app called Rezy that keeps track of customers information like names and phone numbers by date and time so if the health department ever needs that information for contact tracing, it should be easy to put together.
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon said the new restrictions are requirements and fines and enforcement are in place.
Follow Trisha McCauley on Facebook and Twitter. Send story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.