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Step backward: Some Michigan bars ordered closed after coronavirus outbreaks

Brewpubs, distilleries, vineyards can remain open

Photo of a drink at a bar.
Photo of a drink at a bar. (Pixabay)

DETROIT – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Wednesday she is ordering establishments with on-premises retailer liquor licenses that earn more than 70% of their gross receipts from alcohol sales to shut down their indoor bar services until further notice.

Indoor bar service in six of the state’s eight geographical regions will be shut down, excluding the Upper Peninsula and Traverse City Region -- the only two regions in phase five of reopening.

Gov. Whitmer orders indoor bars closed.
Gov. Whitmer orders indoor bars closed. (WDIV)

VIEW: Here are the 6 stages in Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s plan to fully reopen the state

Most brewpubs, distilleries and vineyards can stay open indoors. Traditional bars, nightclubs and strip clubs will have to end indoor service.

Whitmer’s announcement comes as the number of confirmed cases linked to an outbreak at Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub in East Lansing continue to rise. On Wednesday, health officials confirmed 138 positive COVID-19 cases have been linked to the bar, including 119 people who were customers there between June 12 and June 20.

Related: Video shows Royal Oak bar linked to COVID-19 cases was crowded without social distancing

Also on Wednesday, Whitmer signed a package of bills allowing restaurants to serve alcoholic drinks to-go and via delivery.

READ: Michigan bars, restaurants can now deliver alcoholic drinks, sell them to-go, offer 2-for-1 deals

“Following recent outbreaks tied to bars, I am taking this action today to slow the spread of the virus and keep people safe,” Whitmer said. “If we want to be in a strong position to reopen schools for in-person classroom instruction this fall, then we need to take aggressive action right now to ensure we don’t wipe out all the progress we have made.”

Over the past week, every region in Michigan has seen an uptick in new coronavirus cases, and daily case counts now exceed 20 cases per million in the Grand Rapids, Lansing and Kalamazoo regions.

Nearly 25% of diagnoses in June were of people ages 20 to 29, up from roughly 16% in May. That shift aligns with national trends, and the evidence suggests that young people may be driving a new phase of the pandemic, according to state officials.


Bars reopened on June 8

The state of Michigan’s stay-at-home order was lifted June 1. Restaurants and bars then were allowed to reopen to dine-in service on June 8. Groups will have to remain at least six feet apart and servers must wear masks. Restaurants have been allowed to fill to 50% capacity.

All restaurants had previously been limited to carry-out and delivery services since Whitmer’s first stay-at-home order was issued in March.

Restaurants and bars were allowed to reopen May 22 in the Upper Peninsula and Traverse City Region, which includes 17 counties in the northernmost part of the Lower Peninsula.


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