- Hannah Ervin, Detroit Stock City
Following news of at least 107 coronavirus cases that could be traced to Harper's Restaurant & Brew Pub in East Lansing, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order temporarily banning indoor bar service in much of Michigan.
Executive Order 2020-143 orders indoor service in bars across the state to close, excluding Regions 6 and 8 in the Upper Peninsula and northern Michigan, where coronavirus cases are lower.
"Bars are often crowded, indoors and poorly ventilated — all of which make it easy to spread COVID-19 from person to person," Whitmer's office said in a statement. "Bars also encourage mingling among groups and facilitate close contact over an extended period of time. They are noisy, requiring raised voices and allowing for more projection of viral droplets. And they serve alcohol, which reduces inhibitions and decreases compliance with mask use and physical distancing rules."
The executive order applies to businesses with on-premises retailer liquor licenses that earn more than 70% of their gross receipts from alcohol sales. So that forces traditional bars, nightclubs, and strip clubs to close for indoor service, while brewpubs, distilleries, and vineyards can remain open.
Bars can remain open for outdoor service. On Wednesday, Whitmer also signed a package of cocktails-to-go legislation that allows bars and restaurants to sell alcoholic drinks in designated containers for carry-out or delivery to be consumed at home or in designated outdoor areas.
"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," Whitmer said in a statement. "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."
In recent weeks, there has been a national trend of coronavirus cases tied to young people. Last month, nearly 25% of new cases were people between the ages of 20 and 29, according to Whitmer's office.
Whitmer had said she had hoped to reopen more of the economy by the Fourth of July, but on Tuesday announced that would not happen due to the uptick of coronavirus cases.
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