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Michigan restaurants, customers react to contact tracing order

As COVID-19 trends rise in the state, Michigan is requiring restaurants and bars to get customers' names and phone numbers for contact tracing.

LAMBERTVILLE, Mich. — As COVID-19 trends rise in the state, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is requiring restaurants and bars to get customers' names and phone numbers for contact-tracing purposes.

The rules also state that no more than six people can be seated at a table.  

Brad Jennings, the owner of AJ Doolittles Sports Bar & Grill in Lambertville is making sure customer's personal information for contact tracing is safe and secure.

"We're gonna have little cards for people and yeah, you have to have your name and phone number, the date you visited and the time. We're gonna have a locked drop-box and you physically drop the card in there. Nobody will see that," Jennings said.

The information will be stored in a safe where only he, his wife and the two other co-owners will have access, Jennings said.

Jennings is giving credit of the lock drop-box idea to a fellow restaurant owner at Sidelines Sports Eatery & Pub in Lambertville. 

He's also trying to give something back to his customers by offering them the chance to win a $10 gift card once a week. He'll pull the winner out of the pile of cards he receives. 

Across the street at The Mason Jar Tap & Grill, one customer feels uncomfortable about having to give up his personal information. 

"I think it's an invasion of privacy myself," Michael Blankenship said. "It should be up to the individual what you want to do."

"I think [Gov. Gretchen Whitmer] is up to 200 government mandates but if it's a good way to follow the case of the coronavirus, that's good. I was unhappy at first but I think it's a good thing," said Robert Boes, another customer at The Mason Jar. 

Jennings is afraid he may lose business being so close to the Ohio border but hopes people will continue to support local. 

"We're doing what we're being told to do. We have no choice," he said. 

Establishments could be fined $1,000 for not following the order. 

Alongside the rerelease of last week's order, MDHHS also published strong recommendations for indoor social gatherings, including at Thanksgiving. Because no one measure confers complete protection in a gathering, the guidance recommends that individuals take multiple steps together:

  • Get together outside whenever possible. You have up to 20 times higher risk of getting sick inside. 
  • If you do get together inside, include no more than two households and 10 people.
  • Limit time inside together—greater duration is greater risk.
  • Wear a mask – take it off when you eat or drink, then put it back on.
  • Keep six feet apart as much as you can.
  • When possible, keep voices down; high volume can increase COVID transmission by 30 times
  • Wash hands regularly and try to not to share utensils.



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