Igloos, heated tents among ideas for Michigan restaurants anxious of looming cold weather

Michigan restaurants can’t eradicate COVID-19 by the time snow falls.

Instead, they’re concocting plans to cheat Mother Nature.

When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer allowed restaurants to reopen this spring with 50% capacity limits, cities and business owners needed creativity and flexibility to find solutions. They moved tables onto sidewalks, streets and parking lots to accommodate the crowds they’re used to.­­

But those temporary solutions won’t last as the weather chills.

“We had this sort of ‘everyone rally together’ (phase),” said Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association. “It was not a ‘successful’ period, but that outdoor dining capacity is what made the difference between a lot of people surviving and going under. And that’s going by the wayside.”

The 50% capacity limit and 6-foot mandate between groups still exists, as Michigan’s COVID-19 numbers have diminished but not disappeared. Plus, some customers only feel comfortable dining outside,

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