Patrons now forced to leave personal info at restaurants in case of Covid outbreak

Less than five days after announcing the latest step in contract tracing. Restaurants all over the state have been asked to implement it. 

All of which means the state will know who ate where and when.  Is it too much to ask or an opportunity for business? One thing is certain, change is the one thing you can count on being a restaurant owner in a pandemic. 

"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.

That was the first reaction from the owner of Bobcat Bonnie’s after learning the Department of Health and Human Services is asking all who dine in establishments to keep records of guests in case of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Buskard says he felt a little blindsided by the request, given less than a week to put it into action.  

“It’s us pushing it, and us enforcing it," he said. "And it’s like who has our backs then? It can be overwhelming.”

Enforcement will fall on the restaurant, with health officials who can fine it $200 and up to $1,000 a day they are not in compliance. 

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association represents 5,000 establishments throughout the state and released a statement which reads in part: 

“The COVID-19 outbreak investigation data collected by the MDHHS continues to show minimal transmission from restaurant dining, despite the rising caseloads, representing only about 2 percent of all cases the state is investigating."

As for the diners: 

“Everyone is trying to do the best they can and any good idea brought to the table is a positive thing," said one man.

“Trace them down, know where they have been, and help people stay safe," said another.

“I can’t imagine working in (a restaurant) right now because of all the things you have to do," said one woman. "But I look at it this way, you are making the customer feel safer in that environment and right now some people are hesitant to go out.”

“Having a company have your number and not knowing what they are going to do with it makes you uncomfortable,” said another woman.

Back at Bobcat Bonnie’s they have a plan for collecting accurate information and giving diners a reason to keep coming in - using the info written on a card for a random drawing.

“Every week we pull two of those and you get a gift card.”

All he is asking for in return is a little head's up of what to expect next. 

“Stop surprising us with these things, let us plan and come up with plans that are smart, with you," he said.

That not the only change. Parties of more than six will no longer be allowed to sit at the same table - it is something to be aware of if you have a reservation coming up.