Food And Drinks

Michigan Executive Order Closes Bars Up North for Indoor Service, Reopens Detroit Casinos

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With cases on the rise, Governor Gretchen Whitmer made the decision this week to update two executive orders, further restricting bars in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, and tightening the size of indoor and outdoor gatherings across the state. Starting Friday July 31st, bars and restaurants in the northern regions of the state must be closed for indoor service. Detroit casinos are allowed to reopen at 15 percent capacity starting Wednesday, August 5th.

The governor previously allowed bars in northern Michigan and the UP to continue serving customers with 50 percent capacity indoors, while others in the southern regions of the state were instructed to close on July 1 due to indoor service being able to continue serving drinks outdoors, for sale on the go and for delivery. The order is for establishments with local liquor retail licenses that receive more than 70 percent of their “gross receipts from alcohol sales,” such as bars, nightclubs and strip clubs. It doesn’t apply to most brewpubs, distilleries, and vineyards.

In a press release, the governor’s office said the order was caused in part by the major Harper’s Bar-related outbreak that resulted in 187 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Several incidents of large Michigan gatherings that led to COVID-19 outbreaks also resulted in revised limits for the size of indoor and outdoor gatherings. The updated Executive Order now states that indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people or less and outdoor gatherings to 100 people or less. This part of the order does not apply to businesses such as restaurants or retailers. “The indoor gathering is for ‘social gatherings’ and’ organized events’, not business operations in general, ‘wrote deputy press secretary Chelsea Lewis in an email to Eater. “However, companies must adhere to strict workplace safety precautions to ensure the safety of their employees.”

Despite the new restrictions on business, Governor Whitmer is pursuing a plan that will allow Detroit casinos to reopen to 15 percent capacity. Casinos are a major source of tax revenue for the city and have seen a sharp decline in business since they closed in March. Still, gatherings in the Greektown Casino district in Detroit were recently named a “hotspot” for COVID-19 by Denise Fair, Detroit’s chief public health officer. Under the order:

  • Both customers and employees and anyone else entering the facility must complete a COVID-19 screening questionnaire and undergo a temperature review prior to entering the property
  • Patrons must wear face covering unless they are eating or drinking
  • Smoking is prohibited indoors
  • All self-service buffets, coffee machines and drinks machines are closed
  • Entertainment venues such as concert halls and night clubs will remain closed
  • Casinos are required to adhere to strict protocols regarding disinfection, social distancing and employee safety precautions

The contract also renews the requirements for restaurants and bars that are 50 percent full. In addition to the rules for the use of customer and employee masks, alcoholic drinks are only allowed to be sold at tables. This means that customers can only go to the bar and order a drink when they are sitting there. The order also explicitly states that restaurants “must close immediately if an employee shows symptoms of COVID-19” and must be thoroughly cleaned. Cleaning can be done overnight. Restaurants must “install physical barriers such as sneeze guards and partitions on cash registers, bars, host booths, and other areas where it is difficult to physically maintain six feet”. Restaurants should also “limit the number of employees in shared spaces as much as possible”.

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) this week announced plans to begin conducting COVID-19 safety inspections based on recommendations at bars and restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores, grocery stores, and other retail outlets to increase compliance of state regulations.

As cases continue to rise across the country, particularly in the southern states, the US has passed a grim milestone of 150,000 deaths related to COVID-19. As of Wednesday, July 29, at least 6,172 people have died of COVID-19 in Michigan since March.

Executive order rules for casinos, restaurants, bars

Executive order for occupational safety

Eater is tracking the impact of the novel coronavirus on the local food industry. Do you have a story to share? Contact us at [email protected]

• Governor Whitmer ordered bars in Michigan to be closed for indoor service everywhere except the north [ED]
• OSHA is stepping up random inspections of coronavirus safety measures in restaurants and grocery stores in Michigan [ED]
• Owners of a bar in East Lansing are required to submit a reopening plan to the state following the COVID-19 outbreak [ED]
• The reopening of the chaotic Northern Michigan restaurant opens up lessons for the rest of the state [ED]

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Dusty Kennedy