Whitmer Announces Bar & Restaurant Reopening on Feb. 1

This morning, Governor Whitmer announced a new MDHHS epidemic order, which allows bars and restaurants to open with restrictions on Feb. 1. The MLBA has been notified that the epidemic orders will be reviewed by MDHHS on a weekly basis. We will be focused on fighting for fewer restrictions.
The governor also announced the MI COVID-19 Safer Dining Program. We are still gathering details about this and will have more information for you this afternoon. The program will provide funding for participating bars and restaurants to update their ventilation systems. The Michigan Labor and Economic Opportunity and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will be hosting a webinar for bar and restaurant owners on the program this coming Monday. LEARN MORE HERE!

Gathering restrictions for entertainment facilities, recreational facilities, and food service establishments.
A. Gatherings are prohibited at entertainment facilities and recreational facilities unless:
1. Venues and activities held at those venues comply with masking and distancing requirements in this subsection. Venues that cannot consistently adhere to these requirements (e.g., water parks, dance floors at a nightclub, or children’s indoor playgrounds in-as-much as staff are not present to prevent physical contact) may not be open.
a. Patrons remain masked at all times, except when eating or drinking in designated areas;
b. Groups of patrons participating in activities together (such as those seated together at a concert or movie, or bowling in the same lane) do not exceed 10 persons from up to two households;
c. Patrons are prevented from mingling with or engaging in physical contact with persons outside their group;
2. If participating in stationary activities, groups are spaced or seated at least 6 feet apart. If participating in non-stationary activities, groups maintain a consistent 6 feet of distance from other groups at all times;
3. Consumption of food or beverages is permitted only where patrons are seated, groups of patrons are separated by at least six feet, no more than 6 patrons are seated at a table, and groups of patrons do not intermingle;
4. Venues that are also food service establishments must, as a condition of offering food or beverages, ensure their designated dining areas comply with all requirements in subsection (b);
5. Venues abide by the following density limitations:
a. For venues with fixed seating, occupancy must not exceed 20% of the limits established by the State Fire Marshal or a local fire marshal;
b. For venues with non-fixed seating, occupancy is limited to 20 persons per 1,000 square feet, including within any distinct space within the venue;
6. Venues abide by the following maximum capacity limitations:
a. At stadiums and arenas hosting sporting events as provided in section 6, up to 250 patrons may be gathered at venues with a seating capacity under 10,000, and up to 500 patrons may be gathered at venues with a seating capacity of over 10,000. This provision is effective immediately, replacing section 3(a)(5)(C) of the January 13, 2021 order, entitled Gatherings and Face Mask Order;
b. For all other entertainment and recreation facilities, no more than 100 patrons may be gathered within any distinct space within the venue.
B. Gatherings are prohibited at food service establishments unless:
1. Consumption of food or beverages is permitted only in a designated dining area where patrons are seated, groups of patrons are separated by at least six feet, no more than 6 patrons are seated together (at a table, booth, or group of fixed seats), and groups of patrons do not intermingle;
2. Patrons are not permitted to gather in common areas in which people can congregate, dance, or otherwise mingle;
3. In the event that an employee of a food service establishment is confirmed positive for COVID-19 or shows symptoms of COVID-19 while at work, a gathering at that food service establishment is prohibited until the food service establishment has been deep cleaned consistent with Food and Drug Administration and CDC guidance;
4. At establishments offering indoor dining:
a. The number of patrons indoors (or a designated dining area of a multi-purpose venue) does not exceed 25% of normal seating capacity, or 100 persons, whichever is less;
b. Food service establishments, or the food service establishment portion of a multi-purpose venue, must close indoor dining between the hours of 10:00 PM and 4:00 AM;
c. The venue displays, in a prominent location, the MDHHS “Dining During COVID-19” brochure.
Important Documents: 



Bars and Restaurants Set to Open for Indoor Service with Restrictions on Feb. 1

LANSING, MI – In a press conference this morning, Governor Whitmer announced a new MDHHS epidemic order, which allows for the reopening of bars and restaurants with restrictions on Feb. 1.

“Reopening at 25 percent capacity is a start, but it’s not what we were hoping for or what our industry needs right now,” said MLBA Executive Director Scott Ellis. “Many establishments have been closed because carry-out sales weren’t enough to keep them open. We’re afraid a strict capacity limit like this will continue to keep those places closed.”

Other points of concern for the MLBA are the 100-person limit and the 10 p.m. curfew, which apply to all businesses across the board.

“One-size-fits-all restrictions like these simply don’t make sense. A breakfast diner doesn’t have a problem abiding by a night-time curfew, but an upscale dining establishment in downtown Detroit does because people don’t typically frequent those places until later in the evening,” Ellis said. “In respect to the 100-person limit, a pub and a large entertainment center are treated the same way under these restrictions despite the obvious size difference. If an establishment is able to abide by social distancing measures, they should be able to allow more customers in.”

Recent survey data from the MLBA indicates that only about two-thirds of bars and restaurants would be willing to reopen under the 25 percent restriction, leaving 1/3 of the industry closed. The data gathered from hospitality businesses throughout the state also indicates that 27 percent of bars and restaurants face permanent closure in the next month.

“At the end of the day, roughly 5 percent of bars and restaurants in the state have already closed for good. Overbearing restrictions like these will keep places closed because they’ll lose less money being closed than by being open at 25 percent,” Ellis said. “These next couple of months are the most critical for our industry. What the governor and MDHHS decide to do in the next couple of weeks will make or break one of the largest industries in our state.”