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Ingham Health Officer Supports Raising Restaurant Capacity

Linda Vail Zoom image
Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail, speaking with reporters via Zoom on Tuesday

Ingham County’s top health official supports the announcement Tuesday that indoor capacity at restaurants will be raised from 25-percent to 50-percent.

Under new state guidelines taking effect Friday, restaurant tables must be six feet apart and hold no more than six people. The dining curfew is also moving from 10 to 11 p.m.

Larger restaurants will have a capacity limit of 100 people.

Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail says as long as restaurants observe the rules, a cap of 100 eases her mind. “I don’t think 500 people indoors anywhere would be a good idea right now," Vail says, "even if it’s 50-percent of their capacity.”

The order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services also allows indoor arenas with a capacity below 10,000 to admit 375 people; larger stadiums are allowed 750 people. Outdoor facilities can admit up to 1,000.

Vail also backs the announcement that restrictions on nursing home visits are being eased. MDHHS guidelines will now allow visits to facilities where there hasn’t been a new COVID-19 case for 14 days. Indoor visitors over the age of 13 will be subject to testing.

Vail applauds a cautious approach that includes high resident vaccination rates. "That creates a much safer environment," she concludes, "as well as there being just a compelling need to deal with the mental health issues around isolation with our elderly population that are in skilled nursing facilities, long-term care facilities, as well as their family members. So, I think it’s a good move.”

Under the new order, visitors must be masked while maintaining six feet of spacing from residents. It also encourages communal dining and group activities for residents.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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