By Bria Brown

SAGINAW (WNEM) — The wreaths at Jake’s Old City Grill in Saginaw are lit, but the booths and bar are empty.

“We’ve basically had our legs cut off, and when you get above the knee it starts to hurt even more,” said Paul Barrera, owner of Jake’s.

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Jake’s is like every other restaurant and bar across the state reduced to carry-out only by the state health department’s orders.

“It’s tough going into the holidays knowing you’re going to do maybe 10 to 15 percent what you normally would do. And still retain your staff and customers, and for many people, retain your business,” Barrera said.

The order is supposed to last until Dec. 8, but an extension is a very real possibility.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Dec. 1, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was asked if the order will be extended.

“At this point in time, it’s really too early to say where we’ll be in a few days, much less next week. But I think it’s important for people to know we haven’t predetermined anything. It’s gonna be driven by where we see the numbers,” Whitmer said.

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Barrera has little to no hope.

“I don’t believe there’s any lucid restaurateur in the industry, particularly in the state of Michigan, that believes this will be done on Dec. 8. The majority of us have the expectation we’ll be closed past New Year’s Eve,” Barrera said.

If that is the case, it could be devastating for an industry already bleeding money.

“In normal economic times, you have about 400,000 people working in leisure and hospitality. That’s down by over 30 percent this year. There’s just under 300,000 people working that sector,” said Chris Douglas, professor at the University of Michigan-Flint.

Douglas said this could be a worse situation than the spring. To add gasoline to the fire, there’s not stimulus package this time.

“Nothing is being done to bridge that gap. Congress and the president are delaying passing a second stimulus. So now places are shutting down without that lifeline they had back in the spring, which is gonna increase the likelihood we’ll see more business closures this time than the first go-around,” Barrera said.

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