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Why are indoor bars still closed in Michigan? State’s top health official responds

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun says indoor bars present unique risk factors for spreading COVID-19

Alcoholic drinks
Alcoholic drinks (Pexels)

LANSING, Mich. – Why are indoor bars still closed in Michigan due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) when people can buy alcohol and eat inside restaurants?

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, brought up this question at Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Wednesday briefing.

READ: How COVID-19 cases are trending in all 8 Michigan regions

Khaldun said there’s data that links many COVID-19 outbreaks across the country to indoor bars and restaurants. Whitmer shut down Michigan indoor bars July 1 after the state saw a spike in COVID-19 cases, specifically in younger people.

In response, Whitmer permitted bars and restaurants to deliver alcoholic beverages, sell them to-go and offer two-for-one deals.

“Bars, in particular, are associated with unique risk factors -- lots of people, tight spaces and alcohol, leading people to change their behaviors and increasing their risk of spread of COVID-19,” Khaldun said.

Before Whitmer tightened her executive order on bars, there were “several outbreaks” at bars that affected “hundreds of people,” according to Khaldun.

“While we’re still trying to get a handle on this virus, it is still very appropriate for bars to remain closed,” Khaldun."

She said while 2020 has been a difficult year, this won’t last forever. She express optimism that there could be a vaccine as early as this fall.

More coverage

Here’s much more recent coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whitmer’s handling of pandemic:

Reopening Michigan:

Health questions, advice:

Vaccines:

Outbreaks:

Unemployment:

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