State issues guidance on new restaurant rules

The state wants restaurants to take contact info from customers, but it won't force them.

State health officials on Tuesday issued guidance to restaurants frustrated by new rules meant to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The rules limit party sizes at restaurants and ask restaurants to take the contact information of their patrons for contact tracers to use should someone test positive for the coronavirus. Restaurant owners were unhappy with that last requirement because it could push them into conflict with customers who want to remain anonymous.

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Officials with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) responded Tuesday by making the contact information rule a “recommendation” rather than a requirement. Restaurants should ask for the info, but don’t have to reject customers who refuse.

The MDHHS also clarified other parts of the rule:

  • Restaurants only need to collect names, phone numbers, and the dates and times of service.
  • Restaurants should hold onto the information for 28 days.
  • Restaurants shouldn’t use the info for marketing or other purposes not related to public health. They also shouldn’t release the info to police unless forced to by a subpeona.
  • Restaurants are asked to collect info from all members of a party, but aren’t required to.
  • Officials are recommending that restaurants deny access to patrons who refuse to give up their contact info. They aren’t required to.

You can read more on Bridge Michigan.

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