MDHHS Keeps Small Bars Open, Sets 50 Percent Occupancy Limit for Bars/Restaurants

LANSING, MI – Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) today issued its Gathering Prohibition and Face Covering Order, which allows small bars that did not meet the 70/30 distinction under the governor’s orders to remain open, while scaling back their previous short-lived order, which allowed bars and restaurants to remain open at 100 percent occupancy.

“We’re happy to see that MDHHS did not include a 70/30 alcohol distinction, this is something we worked on with the Governor’s Office because it kept many small bars in rural and neighborhood areas closed,” said MLBA Executive Director Scott Ellis. “However, we’re frustrated with the occupancy reduction from 100 percent down to 50 percent.”

Only three COVID-19 outbreaks (defined as two or more cases linked to one place) were tied to bars in the most recent data gathered by MDHHS, which accounted for a two-week period ending October 1.

“If establishments are abiding by all the rules and safety guidelines set by MDHHS, MIOSHA and CDC, an arbitrary occupancy limitation just doesn’t make sense,” Ellis said. “There are plenty of establishments that can keep patrons safe at 60, 80 or even 100 percent. Just picking a number hurts the businesses that have been already been hurt enough by this pandemic.”

Business owners in the hospitality industry say they are tired of the back-and-forth restrictions that they must abide by.

“Every week, sometimes multiple times a week, these businesses are hit with new, changed or different restrictions, which is not only extremely frustrating, but also time-consuming,” Ellis said. “Many bar and restaurant owners work from 7 a.m. until midnight or later, as do their employees – it’s time to give them a break.”

The epidemic order is effective immediately. The full order can be read here: https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/0,9753,7-406-98178_98455-541962–,00.html