At a time when bars are required to offer outdoor service only and some states are mandating earlier curfews for establishments serving alcohol, some Michigan legislators are advocating to change last call to 4 a.m. Currently, bars across the state may continue serving until 2 a.m. before calling it a night and may not begin serving again until 7 a.m. However, HB 4231 would allow municipalities to potentially move that time back to 4 a.m.
The Michigan House of Representatives voted in favor of the bill on Thursday, September 24, the Detroit Free Press reports. Under the rule, participating bars would be required to pay a $250 fee for the permit allowing for expanded service hours.
Many states and cities including Washington, Kentucky, Colorado, and Pennsylvania are experimenting with imposing curfews on bars during the pandemic in an effort to limit intoxicated crowds from spreading novel coronavirus by breaking social distancing and mask mandates. Curfews also brings their own consequences. In London, the early closing times have resulted in bottlenecks of traffic in busy districts and on public transport and has resulted in street parties with few masks or social distancing, potentially making the problem worse. It’s also imposed greater financial strains on bars in other states that are losing yet another avenue for revenue during a very difficult time for the industry.
In Michigan, the state’s leading health official Dr. Joneigh Khaldun pointed out as recently as this month that many of the summer’s outbreaks were tied to bars.
If approved by the Michigan Senate and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the new last call rule would be another big change to liquor laws in the state. In July, the legislature approved new rules for liquor sales including discounts for businesses and allowances for to-go sales in an effort to boost the bar economy amidst the pandemic.