Bars Face Uncertain Future As Gov. Whitmer Reinstates Restrictions
Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Wednesday afternoon closing down indoor service at bars across most of the state.
Any bar that has a retailer’s liquor license and receives at least 70% of their revenue from alcohol sales must end indoor service in all regions but 6 and 8, the Upper Peninsula and Traverse City.
Bars can continue outdoor service.
“It’s constantly changing,” says Ben Breidenstein, manager of The Bird. “We’re following the rules and always adapting, but it’s pretty stressful.”
The ride continues for Michigan bars just weeks after being given the go ahead to open to patrons—an executive order from Whitmer ends indoor service.
“We’re going to close our doors until we’re allowed to,” Breidenstein says. “ We’re going to abide by the rules like we have this whole entire time, like everyone should be doing.”
This follows outbreaks seen connected to establishments that weren’t following the rules, more than 100 cases linked to a bar in East Lansing.
“It actually hurts a lot because what you’ve done is you’ve taken away from everyone else,” Breidenstein says. “It seems like a selfish kind of act to me.”
Whitmer also signed a bill Wednesday that allows to-go cocktails to be sold, but that isn’t enough to save the Bird.
“It doesn’t help me if I can’t have my door open regardless,” Breidenstein says.
The ban is in effect while a region is in Phase 4. Whitmer has said a jump to Phase 5 could be imminent and these bars hope so.
“There are so many little mom and pop places that I don’t think are going to survive another wave of this,” Breidenstein says. “We’re seeing too many businesses closed for this.”
Since you have to have a retailer’s liquor license, places like breweries, distilleries, and wineries can still serve people indoors. They are making the alcohol on premise that they are serving.
Restaurants with less than 70% coming from alcohol sales can still serve indoors as long as social distancing is followed and patrons are seated at tables.