(WWJ) The pandemic has been tough on restaurants across the country, including here in Michigan.
Justin Winslow, President of the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, said over 1,000 restaurants have closed their doors forever because of the pandemic.
Speaking live on WWJ, he said it will likely get worse going into the colder months.
“All of those things we used to do outside, like dining, we won’t be able to do anymore.”
Without some creative solutions or a vaccine soon, he said thousands more restaurants will disappear.
“We’re estimating, if things don’t change, about 5,000 restaurants and hotels throughout Michigan will not make it through the winter months,” Winslow said.
The National Restaurant Association estimated 1 in 6 restaurants have closed across the country, and 40% will not return without federal relief.
For Michigan, Winslow told WWJ the outcome could be even “worse,” with independent restauranteurs feeling the pinch more than large chains because they don’t have “financial capital” to sustain them through the long-term closures.
“We keep coming up with solutions that we think will help us get through this. Two weeks, two months. We’re now into the fall and it looks like we may have a really protracted downturn again,” Winslow said. “It is going to be devastating.”
However; there is hope, Winslow told WWJ’s Mike Campbell.
The Michigan Restaurant And Lodging Association said they are actively working with the state to increase capacity in restaurants safely.
Winslow said many of the eateries are winterizing outdoor dining spaces, including using igloos and insulated tents.
“It’s not ideal,” Winslow. “But we’re not working in an ideal scenario. At least you have some expanded square footage to space people out and get a little revenue.”
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services have reported a total of 10 outbreaks (defined by two or more cases linked to the same place) at restaurants statewide.
“Eating at a restaurant is a lot safer than I think the general narrative would make you believe it is….” Winslow said. “It is safer than you think it is because of how seriously the industry is taking these safety measures.”