Restaurants and bars in Michigan are continuing to defy state orders put in place to slow the spread of novel coronavirus so that businesses can one day reopen again legally and more safely. Five additional businesses in southeast Michigan alone were slapped with liquor license and permit suspensions for defying state epidemic orders banning indoor service, according to a Monday, December 21, release by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC).
Tenacity Brewing Company, a Flint-based brewer with plans as recently as last year to open a location in Detroit, where employees were allegedly observed on the premises without masks on two occasions. Investigators also stated in their report that they observed customers purchasing drinks and seating themselves inside the brewery.
Oak Cafe in Wyandotte was also cited for violating the order. According to the MLCC investigator Anne Flynn-Sloat’s report, the bar had advertised it was open for carryout but the door was locked and the windows were covered when she arrived. As it turned out, that was because the bar was allegedly offering indoor service with entry through a side door. Flynn-Sloat says in the report that the bartender ignored her when she identified herself and she eventually requested to speak with the owner. Then, while waiting for the owner, “she contacted law enforcement as the crowd at the bar was becoming increasingly hostile and the bartender refused to cooperate with the investigator.”
J. Knapps in Richmond, Limelight Pizza Kitchen Grill & Bar in Warren, and Fast Eddie’s Bar & Grill in Mount Clemens also received suspensions. J. Knapps was cited for allowing patrons and employees to gather inside without masks or social distancing.
At Limelight, that state investigator reported that he observed 21 people dining indoors and six people in a fully enclosed outdoor service area — meaning it had four walls and a roof. It’s unclear if those six people were from the same party. “It should also be noted that neither the staff nor most of the patrons appeared to be wearing masks,” the report says.
At Fast Eddie’s, investigators reported 13 people seating indoors primarily at the bar without masks. The bartender was allegedly wearing her mask around her chin. On a separate night, investigators returned and found 34 people seating inside the bar without social distancing or masks. The investigators stated that “patrons were mingling around and congregating in common areas, including playing pool,” a violation of state order going back virtually to the beginning of reopenings in June.
Shocking no one at this point, a lot of bars and restaurants around Michigan have been resisting current state orders mandating the closure of indoor service areas and some communal forms of outdoor dining. According to the state, a total of 26 businesses have received liquor license suspensions since September. The current closure order is scheduled to expire on January 15, but officials have suggested that it might be lifted sooner if numbers across the state continue to decrease. As part of the most recent order, some indoor facilities including bowling alleys and theaters are now permitted to open as of December 21.
Anyone with a concern about a business’s compliance can report the issue to the MLCC by filing a complaint with the MLCC Enforcement Division online or by calling the division’s hotline, toll-free, at 866-893-2121.
Currently, restaurants and bars are only permitted to offer carryout, delivery, or outdoor dining under specific guidelines with social distancing and masks.
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