Maybe millions in Michigan have been anxiously awaiting today. Dine-in seating can resume today at Michigan’s restaurants, bars, and lounges. At least at those that are left.  No one can question that the state’s entertainment industry has been decimated by the COVID-19 virus orders issued by the Governor, many through the state Health and Human Service department.  Today’s reopening comes with a heavy price though. Restaurants are only allowed to seat up to 25% of their capacity.

Here in Battle Creek and Calhoun County, Lakeview Lounge is among over 100 establishments ready to reopen today, offering a seat at a table and dine-in service.
But it’s been rough going for Lakeview. It was hit with state enforcement action on January 12th after investigators visited and found it open on three occasions. The Liquor Control Commission and the state Health and Human Services Department stepped in to order it closed. A short license suspension was included. But that ended Friday.  Owner Norm Downey tells the Battle Creek Enquirer that he’s ready to welcome guests back to the Capital Avenue establishment. A GoFundMe account was set up on behalf of the lounge and within a short time, donations topped $35,000. Downey says the help has been incredible and without a doubt has played a big role in being able to stay afloat.

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But that’s a question now facing restaurants that have not permanently shut down in Michigan. Can they make it with a huge bottleneck imposed by the state on their business? Along with the 25% rule, maximum seating is capped at 100, and eating establishments are required to close at 10 pm. That is leading some people who are critical of the state’s controls to ask what seemingly magical happens to the virus at the stroke of 10.

Bridge Michigan reports Michigan is not alone with a staggering entertainment industry. It points to a national restaurant association's figures that indicate restaurants lost about $240 billion last year and as many as 110,000 nationwide have at least closed temporarily, many for good.

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