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Executive order closes indoor bar service through most of lower Michigan

Posted at 4:21 PM, Jul 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-01 23:54:50-04

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order, Wednesday, closing indoor bar service to most of lower Michigan after a recent coronavirus outbreak was tied to bars.

According to the governors office, this order is to protect the progress made against COVID-19.

The Upper Peninsula and most of Northern Michigan are excluded from the order.

Bars in the Lower Peninsula are allowed to continue outdoor service.

Additionally, Governor Whitmer signed a bill allowing bars and restaurants to sell cocktails to-go.

“Following recent outbreaks tied to bars, I am taking this action today to slow the spread of the virus and keep people safe. 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," Said Governor Whitmer.

The order applies to all bars that make 70% or more of their receipts from alcohol sales.

The executive director of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, Scott Ellis, responded, saying "The governor has effectively hurt every local small-town bar in the state – establishments that aren’t the bad actors."

Ellis added, "The announcement was not followed by any plan to help these establishments. No further relief, no assistance, no funding, no aid. Now, places that required masks, ensured social distancing and invested in remodeling their establishments to be safe for patrons have been altogether cheated.”

Owner of the The Meanwhile Bar in Grand Rapids told FOX 17 they may not remain open at such minimum capacity, with bars only allowing outdoor seating arrangements.

"I can’t see how just running our patio is going to be worth it. It’s a possibility, but we will probably be better off financially just closing back down," said owner Tami VandenBerg.

The bar had recently opened just 9 days ago.