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Gov. Whitmer Says Gaming Control Board Plans to Temporarily Shut Down Michigan Casinos

Some local casinos have already taken measures to reduce spread of the novel coronavirus including shutting down buffets

Restaurant signs are shown along the street next to the Greektown Casino at night.
The Greektown Casino in Detroit.
Stock Detroit
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

In an effort to limit large gatherings and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced today at a press conference that the Michigan Gaming Control Board is working to enact temporary closures of casinos and gaming facilities across the state.

Whitmer had previously initiated an executive order debanding gatherings of 250 or more people and strongly recommended avoiding events with more than 100 people. At least two Michigan counties have taken additional measures by reducing capacity at bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues by 50 percent.

The overall goal of the state and municipal actions is to enforce social distancing — an essential public health measure in reducing the rate of new cases of the novel coronavirus. If the U.S. fails to “flatten the curve” of confirmed cases, hospitals could become overwhelmed and healthcare could be compromised.

State Attorney General Dana Nessel warned today that restaurants and bars that failed to follow the executive order on large gatherings could lose their liquor licenses and owners might be charged with a misdemeanor. Meanwhile, the governors of Illinois and Ohio among others have ordered the shutdown of bars and restaurants. With widespread reports of individuals failing to heed the public health recommendations, it seems likely Michigan will be next.

At Whitmer’s press conference this evening, Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, Chief Medical Executive and Chief Deputy Director for Health, stated that there was evidence of community spread in Michigan — meaning that the cases weren’t linked to people who had traveled or interacted directly with someone with the virus.

Casinos have already begun taking measures to curb the spread including shutting down buffets and cocktail cart services.

Eater has reached out to the Michigan Gaming Control Board for comment.

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