Michigan changes contact tracing order, recommends data collected by more businesses

After just one day, the state of Michigan changed its requirement for bars and restaurants to gather contact information for customers to now recommend they do so.

The state of Michigan tweaked the order that required bars and restaurants to gather their customers' information in order for the state to properly contact trace. But in an FAQ posted to the state's website on Tuesday, one day after the order went into effect, it changed it from a requirement to a recommendation. 

Previously, restaurants had been told to collect their customers' information for contact tracing of COVID-19 and if a customer refused, they were told to turn them away. Now, however, bars and restaurants must still ask for it but, if a customer refuses, they're recommended to turn them away, instead of being required to do so.

It may seem like a minor change, but restaurant managers we spoke with earlier this week knew the contact tracing rule would be tough to enforce.

"They really love how well we are doing with masks and enforcement. so let’s throw them a next-level challenge of getting people’s name and information,” quipped Matt Buskard, the owner of Bobcat Bonnies.

Restaurants were facing a fine of between $200 and $1,000 for failing to comply with the original order. 

The information collected is the date and time of the person entering the establishment plus the customer's name and phone number, which was to be kept on file for 28 days before being destroyed by the establishment.

Restaurants will then take the data and give it to the health department who said they will destroy it "regularly".

The order applies to the following businesses:

Barbers, cosmetology services, tattoo and body piercing, tanning services, massage services, or similar personal care services; Recreational sports and exercise facilities, and entertainment facilities (except for outdoor, non-ticketed events), including arenas, cinemas, concert halls, performance venues, sporting venues, stadiums, and theaters, as well as places of public amusement, such as amusement parks, arcades, and bingo halls; all businesses or operations that provide in-home services, including cleaners, repair persons, painters; all dine-in food service establishments, including bars and restaurants