MI Licensed Beverage Association Fears Fallout From Shut Downs

Characterizing the latest state mandated shutdown for dine-in service at bars and restaurants across Michigan “another nail in the coffin for many businesses,” the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association is voicing deep concerns over the latest closure rules and fears that it might be extended.

When the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued a new Gathering Prohibition and Face Covering Order earlier this month which closes all indoor service at bars and restaurants throughout the state for three weeks, the association joined the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association in voicing protest the order, which also closes casinos, bowling alleys, movie theaters and a number of other businesses.

MLBA Executive Director Scott Ellis argues, “Our number one priority has been the safety of servers and patrons. We have been following all the rules. We’ve been wearing masks, social distancing and sanitizing relentlessly,” adding, “We have to figure out a way to operate.”

According to data collected by the MLBA in a recent survey, one-third of bars are currently on the verge of closing permanently. In another one to three months, another 29-percent will be in the same situation.

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Ellis says, “The hospitality industry went from being shutdown, to operating at 50-percent, and now we’re back to closing our doors again. Our industry has been devastated and this is just another nail in the coffin for many businesses.” Ellis adds, “As the governor said, we’re at a precipice and there is a need for action. If we’re being told to sit back, be patient and not act, we expect our leaders to have a plan. We expect our legislature and governor to be taking the steps necessary to ensure that our industry survives.”

Many bars and restaurants were able to survive the warmer season by adding on or expanding their outdoor service areas, but with winter closing in, that boosted revenue will not be there anymore. The MLBA is asking all Michigan residents to order carry-out and support their local bars and restaurants like they typically would under normal circumstances. Ellis says, “If you visited your favorite bar once a week, consider ordering food and mixed drinks to go from that same place once a week.”

Ellis concludes, “The summer season is one of the busiest times of year for many bars and restaurants throughout the state. The holiday season is one of the busiest times for others. Our businesses will have missed both this year,” adding, “Our state is about to see a massive spike in unemployment with Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner. Our business owners and their staff will be financially devastated going into the holidays.”