OWOSSO— Area businesses are doing their best to weather the latest round COVID-19 restrictions put in place by the Michigan Department of Heath and Human Services (MDHHS), restrictions that ban the public from eating in-person at bars and restaurants.
The new virus restrictions took effect Wednesday and run through Dec. 8. In addition to suspending in-person dining, high schools and colleges are temporarily barred from conducting in-person instruction and bowling alleys, ice rinks, casinos and movie theaters must close their doors to customers.
Gyms and barbershops, meanwhile, are allowed to operate, with strict safety measures in place.
Itsa Deli Thing co-owner Dawn McCoy said Saturday her staff has continued to offer their full menu for delivery and pick-up options. She said they plan to stay open for the three-week period with normal hours.
“We still do a lot of deliveries and pickups,” McCoy said. “A lot of our customers have moved over to that. A lot of them aren’t happy.”
McCoy said that business has been down about 30 percent since Whitmer announced the new restrictions. In March, when the first shutdown was announced, she said that number was closer to 50 percent. McCoy added that there are no plans to lay off any staff.
“As far as staff goes, there’s always something to do,” McCoy said, “so for right now, I’m keeping everybody on. There’s no unemployment relief with this. That’s another thing. There was unemployment with the last one, so I’m keeping staff on unless they are uncomfortable.”
Niche Bar and Lounge manager Joe Yerian said he’s gotten creative in order to stay open. Some changes since Whitmer’s restrictions took effect Wednesday include outdoor seating with a heat lamp to keep customers warm.
He has no plans to furlough any staff at this point, and is “playing things by ear” as far as plans to fully reopen — whenever that may be. Niche has modified its hours to accommodate lunch and dinner times, and offers meals from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m.
“Our specials are what keep us open,” Yerian said, noting his staff have added several temporary menu items that are a big hit with customers — including chicken teriyaki stir fry, chicken with rice soup, and an American beer cheese sub sandwich — in addition to the full menu and cocktails available to-go. Other options include $2 tacos on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Yerian said he hopes the current restrictions on bars and restaurants are short-lived.
“The last time, the lockdown was for two weeks, and it lasted for four months,” he said. “Hopefully that doesn’t happen again.”
Abiding in the Vine, 115 E. Main St. in Owosso, had a sign displayed on the entrance Saturday indicating they would be closed for dine in until further notice. They are offering takeout and for shopping.
Numerous other local bars and restaurants have closed over the last several weeks due to COVID-19 exposure.