Mich. Restaurant and Lodging Association campaigning for loosened COVID-19 restrictions come winter

So many businesses have taken huge hits to their bottom line this year. Restaurants and hotels are among those seeing the biggest losses.

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association is launching a new campaign here in Michigan, warning what will happen if changes aren't made.

Its new campaign is called Don't  Leave Michigan's Hospitality Industry Out In the Cold and is an effort to educate and advocate lawmakers in Lansing for fewer restrictions once the cold weather hits.

"Restaurants that go out in the streets and that, that's not going to happen in the wintertime," said Paul Wegert, who works at The Inn at St. John's. "Restaurants can't make it on 50%, first off. So when you go and tighten up even more with the winter coming in, that's going to cause more challenges for restaurants."

The Inn at St John's is impacted by more than a loss of revenue from its dining experience. Their other amenities impacted include golfing, hotel lodging and event space for receptions and conferences.

"I've got a 10,000 square-foot ballroom and I can't have it more than 10 people so the lodging makes no sense at all," Wegert said.

Industry leaders say they know how to keep everyone safe through protocols that include enhanced cleaning and social distancing, so now the conversation needs to include increasing capacity and getting people back to work.

"Normally have about 300 employees, I'm down to under 100," Wegert said. "There's no one's making any money right now and it's doing everything just to keep the doors open right now."

As tables and chairs remain empty, industry leaders say the consequences could be dire.

"There's probably 4,000-plus restaurants that are going to close down this year," Wegert said. "This campaign will continue until we get doors back open. It has to continue."