For a second time, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended her March 16 executive order closing restaurants and bars for dine-in service. The previous extension was set to expire on Monday, April 13. Whitmer’s new order moves the end date to April 30, in line with the expanded statewide stay-at-home order.
Under the executive orders, restaurants, grocery stores, liquor stores, and agricultural businesses are considered “essential services.” Restaurants are currently allowed to operate for limited carryout and delivery service during the duration of the dine-in closures. Bars that hold a carryout retail license for beer and wine can sell bottles to-go.
Despite being considered essential, 62 percent of restaurant operator respondents in a recent survey by the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association reported laying off employees and cutting staff hours in March alone as a result of the novel coronavirus crisis. Many former employees are now struggling to receive unemployment benefits.
Whitmer authorized a separate program on Monday allowing the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to organize a spirits buyback program that would provide temporary cash refunds for alcohol purchased prior to March 16. Meanwhile, bars, distilleries, and liquor distributors across the state are calling for lawmakers to allow the sale of to-go cocktails as other states have done.
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