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Gov. Whitmer closes indoor service at bars, allows cocktails-to-go

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an Executive Order Wednesday closing indoor service at bars throughout the lower portion of the state. Bars will be allowed to serve drinks outdoors, but cannot serve indoors.

Bars and restaurants will also now be allowed to serve cocktails-to-go.

The governor says the change is due to an increase in daily COVID-19 case counts as well as an increase in cases in residents between the ages of 20 and 29.

“We owe it to our front line heroes who have sacrificed so much during this crisis to do everything we can to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the chance of a resurgence like we are seeing in other states,” said Governor Whitmer. “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.”

Nationwide, some bars have been linked to large outbreaks in cases.

In Ingham County, Michigan, 107 cases are linked to a bar in East Lansing.

Bars are often crowded and poorly ventilated, all of which make it easy to spread COVID-19 from person to person, Whitmer said.

“I urge all Michiganders to double down on mitigation tactics like wearing masks, practicing physical distancing, and washing hands, so we can get our trajectory headed in the right direction again,” said Governor Whitmer. “If we open up our economy too quickly, the efforts of the last three months will be for nothing and we will have to go through this pain all over again and put our economy, health and medical system at risk. Nobody wants to move backward. Everyone, please do your part, and let’s show the nation and the world how smart we are.”

The order applies to establishments with on-premises retailer liquor licenses that earn more than 70% of their gross receipts from alcohol sales. That means that most brew pubs, distilleries, and vineyards can stay open indoors. Traditional bars, nightclubs, and strip clubs will have to end indoor service.

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