Michigan Restaurant Employees Adjust to Pandemic Restrictions

As part of Michigan’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Whitmer issued an executive order, enforcing that all dine-in restaurants to cease operation except for carry out or delivery options, effective as of 3 p.m. March 16 according to a press release from the state of Michigan.
Via Georgio's Apple Orchard Inn on Facebook

For restaurants, this may mean a loss of employment and profits for an indefinite period of time. Chelsey Kangas, a server at Georgio’s Apple Orchard Inn, says that none of their servers can work, but the restaurant remains open for carry out orders.

“We have always offered carryout, but are now offering curbside pickup as well, as an extra safety measure,” Kangas said. “We are also available on DoorDash. We have had more carry outs than we normally do, but business as a whole has been slower because of people not being able to go out. Some days are better than others. We have been offering a daily special on our Facebook page as a thank you to our customers for supporting us during this time.”

Kangas says that none of their servers are receiving any pay or benefits during their time off, unless they have filed for unemployment. The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency states that they have been facing an “unprecedented” increase in applicants, and those who apply for unemployment may experience long delays in receiving their benefits, or even during the initial filing.

“I’m worried about bills,” Kangas said. “Luckily, I had just paid some of them a few days before I was put out of work, but I'm hoping my unemployment benefits come by the time my next round is due. I really don’t want to dip into my savings, but I will if I have to. Being out of work for six weeks (and possibly more) is terrifying.”

Those who are temporarily out of work may not only be worried about affording their own necessities, but also about their dependents.

“I have a toddler, so I’m nervous about not just affording her things, but finding them as well,” Kangas said. “I’m trying to buy enough groceries to get us by, without spending too much money, or being a ‘hoarder.’”

According to the Michigan Small Business Relief Program, restaurants impacted by closures may be eligible for up to $10 thousand in grants, or $50 to $200 thousand in loans in order to  Kangas says Georgio’s Apple Orchard Inn doesn’t currently plan to take out a loan.

“The business is strong, but if we’re told we have to temporarily close for a period of time, I’m worried I won’t have a job to come back to,” Kangas said. “You just never know what’s going to happen right now.”

The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services reported that Macomb County (where Georgio’s Apple Orchard Inn is located) had 728 confirmed cases and 29 deaths due to COVID-19 as of March 31.

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