Indoor bar service closes in Michigan

Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 8:19 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 2, 2020 at 8:38 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - There are new rules for bars throughout most of Michigan as coronavirus cases surge around the country.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Wednesday that she is ordering businesses with liquor licenses that earn more than 70 percent of their gross receipts from alcohol sales to close their indoor bar services.

It’s Michigan’s first step backward in the reopening process after reaching phase four. Now, indoor bar service is ending in six of the eight regions of the state, including in Lansing.

Whitmer’s announcement comes after the now 138 confirmed positive cases of coronavirus were linked to Harper’s Bar in East Lansing. The Ingham County Health Department said Wednesday that they believe that the growing number of cases stemming from Harper’s is finally starting to taper off.

However, Whitmer did sign a package of bills Wednesday that allows bars and restaurants to serve alcoholic drinks to-go and through delivery. The Bar and Restaurant Relief Package also allows more outdoor seating and cuts the price of hard liquor businesses buy from the state. They’ll now get a 23-percent discount. In addition, bars can now legally offer two-for-one drink pricing.

Still, some bar owners in Lansing are wondering how they’re going to survive.

“It was a tough three months to go through the first time, and I didn’t ever want to do it again,” said Chris Potter, who owns Onondaga Tavern. “I’m a bar [owner] and to cut my ability to make income by two-thirds is ridiculous.”

Most brewpubs, distilleries, and vineyards can stay open indoors since they generally do not have more than 70 percent of their sales from alcohol. But traditional bars, nightclubs and strip clubs are likely now on the outside looking in.

“It’s disturbing. You know I think she’s taken her powers and abused them,” Potter said of Whitmer.

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