Should some businesses be forced to shut down while others are allowed to remain open? Should individuals be able to make informed decisions about what businesses they want to patronize or should the State of Michigan dictate that for them? Should the state have a plan in place to protect the businesses that suffer economic hardship due to forced closure?
These are complex questions with no easy answers. Restaurants, bars and other businesses throughout Michigan are being forced to make tough decisions that could mean the difference between staying open and closing their doors for good. Those decisions could come with serious legal repercussions.
The Restaurateur Leading The Charge
According to an article from Crain’s, the owner of Joe Vicari Restaurant Group is rallying restaurants to stand up against orders from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and stay open, serving customers who clearly want to dine indoors despite knowing the potential hazards.
A fellow restaurateur who is joining the charge feels that staying open has become an economic necessity. The owner of Truago restaurant has had to lay off 85 percent of employees and estimates a loss of $250,000 in business over the course of the year.
Those That Stay Open Could Face Serious Consequences
Staying open is not an easy decision for businesses, as the potential civil penalties are dire. In addition to fines of up to $1,000 per violation per day resulting from defying Michigan Department of Health and Human Services orders, they also risk loss of liquor licenses and more.
Worse yet, they could face criminal charges just for staying open for indoor service. Violations could lead to a misdemeanor charge and up to 6 months in jail, a fine of up to $200 or both.
Because of the criminal categorization of defying the order to close, owners of bars, restaurants or other businesses that are considering staying open may wish to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney to fully understand the potential consequences and develop defense strategies if charges are filed.
Here at the Law Office of John Freeman we are here to help. Stay safe and stay healthy!