The State of Michigan got an earful over one of it’s latest COVID-19 restrictions. Late last week, the Michigan Health and Human Services Department ordered restaurants and a host of other businesses to begin collecting identification information about customers. For restaurants, the requirement covered only those customers visiting for dine-in services. Take out customers were exempt. But the idea that people submit their name and phone number was a lot to ask, both from customers, and restaurant owners.  Bridge Magazine reported the CEO of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association says the organization staff was fielding hundreds of calls from member restaurants asking how to implement the new order without losing more customers.  Complaints from people statewide on social media included suggestions how they would comply but with fake names and phone numbers.

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The state claimed the data is needed in case contact tracing needs to be done if someone visiting a restaurant was later confirmed as a carrier of the COVID-19 virus.  But the complaints from both sides turned the tables and the state is now issuing new guidelines, in effect, relaxing the strict order. Restaurants are now told to ask for the information, but they are not required to deny entry to anyone who refuses. Further, restaurants are not obliged to verify the contact information that customers provide.  Another element of the clarification from the state covers the need for restaurants to keep the contact information provided by customers for 28 days. Establishments must be ready to turn over their customer data when requested by a state or local health officer.

Failure to comply with the order, even as relaxed, puts an establishment manager or owner at risk of a misdemeanor, up to 6 months in jail, and fines of up to $1,000.

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