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Health Department needs to sign off before Harper’s can reopen

Nearly 200 people tested positive for COVID-19 connected to Harper's
Published: Aug. 7, 2020 at 7:12 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Harper’s in East Lansing is now hoping changes it’s making are enough to reopen after being connected to one of the largest coronavirus outbreaks in the state.

The Ingham County Health Department said 192 people tested positive for COVID-19 after visiting the bar in June, or coming into contact with someone who had.

That got the attention of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission which could revoke its liquor license.

"For us, that was not anticipated," said Trisha Riley, Harper's Owner.

Viral video shows lack of social distancing and masks outside the bar.

Riley said they're investing thousands of dollars and making changes that need to be approved by the health department before they can reopen.

"We're just looking for them to put all that together in a plan and then submit that to us so we can go through it," said Ingham County health officer Linda Vail.

The biggest change people can expect to see is a new line management system.

That system, which is still being developed, is like a reservation system. It will send alerts when you are at the front of the line.

"If you want to come to Harper's you're going to have to get in line. We had no idea to be honest to you we would have the volume of people interested in coming to Harper's," Riley said.

Riley said some investments were already in the works before the pandemic.

She said a new air filtration system that kills viruses and other germs was installed last month.

"I like to make the environment as clean and proactive as possible," said Riley.

Vail thinks these changes could help prevent another outbreak.

"I think they did try a number of things. I just think there were some serious gaps and to some extent, a lack of awareness around those specific gaps that they are now aware of," said Vail.

Riley said they don't have a target day for reopening yet.

The goal is to make sure the app is working properly before that happens.

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