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Judge won’t stop 3-week ban on indoor dining

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — A judge on Friday declined to immediately stop a three-week ban on indoor dining in Michigan, the latest coronavirus restriction imposed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration.

A restraining order wasn’t appropriate, especially when the state hasn’t had a chance to respond to the lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney said.

The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association, which has thousands of members, is suing to try to stop the indoor dining ban that began Wednesday. The group said restaurants can take further steps to reduce coronavirus risk without cutting off customers.

The group said its members were being unfairly treated compared to other businesses. The judge wasn’t swayed.

“Individuals who patronize the businesses that remain open can do so — and must do so — while wearing a face covering. … In contrast, individuals cannot eat or drink while wearing a mask,” Maloney said.

Maloney set a hearing for Nov. 30, nearly two weeks into the three-week ban.

Association president Justin Winslow said the denial of a restraining order means “several more restaurant workers will be losing their jobs in the coming days as restaurants remain closed.”

In-person classes at high schools and colleges are also prohibited for three weeks, and casinos, theaters and exercise classes are closed.

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