Whitmer Closes Indoor Seating at Bars in Metro Detroit

Bars, night clubs and strip clubs are being ordered to close for indoor service to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan via a new executive order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

A new executive order from Governor Gretchen Whitmer means bars that make more than 70% of their revenue from alcohol sales must stop indoor service. Bars with patios will be allowed to continue serving patrons outdoors.

This follows the rapid spread of confirmed COVID-19 cases from one bar in East Lansing last week. The Associated Press reports that 140 cases of coronavirus across 12 counties have been linked to the establishment, which reports that closing bars to slow the spread of the virus is backed by science. 

Listen: Detroit News reporter Melody Baetens and Justin Winslow from the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association discuss the order.

The order in Michigan comes as California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered bars and restaurants to close for indoor service for the next three weeks and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delayed the return of indoor dining.

The executive order in Michigan went into effect on Wednesday, July 1st at 11 p.m. just hours after it was announced by the governor’s office, causing confusion at some area bars.

According to Whitmer’s order, bars can still utilize their outdoor patios to serve customers. The governor also signed a range of bills that allow bars to sell cocktails-to-go and for cities to create “social districts” where patrons can eat and drink in designated outdoor areas.

Masks are still required at establishments. Alcoholic beverages can only be sold to customers via table service. Orders can be placed at the bar but only to patrons who are seated.

Because the order focuses on establishments that make more than 70% of their revenue from alcohol, most restaurants will not be affected.

The executive order does not apply to northwest Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, which has seen a limited number of coronavirus cases.

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  • Ryan Patrick Hooper
    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host of "In the Groove" on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.