Restrictions begin to lift, but staffing the new issue for restaurants, bars

It’s finally here - the easing of more COVID-19 restrictions for bars and restaurants which can now remain open until 2 a.m. as a curfew ends.

"Our biggest restriction at Charley’s has been curfew," said Adam Lowenstein, co-owner Watershed Hospitality Group. "We do a lot of our sales between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. especially on weekends, we’re a college bar."

Restrictions have also been lifted on the number of people seated per table.

"We've had people coming in during the pandemic wanting groups of 8, 10, 12, and we have not been able to do that," he said.

Starting on Tuesday residents and business owners also saw outdoor capacity restrictions end.

On June 1st, indoor capacity limits increased to 50 percent, but many restaurant owners say they’re still anxious for full capacity.

"Until July 1st when we can up our capacity and get more people inside, that is when those numbers will start to affect us," he said.

As the co-owner of several restaurants and bars, Lowenstein says the biggest benefactor of the easement of restrictions is his business where people go to dance.

"Live is a night club, we haven’t been able to use the dance floor in about 16 months," Lowenstein said.

Business owners say the lifting of restrictions that’s good news but then there’s the issue of staffing.

"(We're) very short staff, people are not coming in to apply," said Phil Booker, general manager Pizza House. "We've been trying to hire but people aren't coming out to apply that often."

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"We still have a hiring issue," said Lowenstein. "Everybody now is looking for employees."

As businesses work to get back on track, some Michiganders believe there’s a rush to drop COVID-19 restrictions.

"I feel like we don't know who has it and who doesn't have it," said Brian Witherspoon, Ypsilanti.

But some believe the right time is now.

"I think it’s just one step closer to life before Covid. so it will be good to ease back into normal life," said Louis Hansen, Ann Arbor.

And four weeks from now on July 1st, all COVID-19 restrictions in the state will be rolled back.

"Once we get back to full capacity," Lowenstein said, "hopefully it will be smooth sailing."