Michigan takes step back with statewide closing of bars
Thu, 07/30/2020 - 10:15am caleb
Executive Order 2020-160 also limits ‘indoor social gatherings’ to 10 people in all regions due to increasing COVID-19 cases
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
According to state leaders and health experts, COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the state of Michigan, and in response to recent outbreaks, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order on Wednesday, July 29, that “prohibits any indoor social gatherings of more than 10 people statewide” and “closes bars across the state” with regard to indoor service, effective Friday, July 31.
“Where Michigan was once among the states most heavily hit by COVID-19, our per-capita rate of new daily cases is now roughly one-third of the national average. Our progress in suppressing the disease, however, appears to have stalled. Cases have risen over the past month – from a rolling seven-day average of 354 cases per day on June 30 to 692 cases on July 28, a two-fold increase,” according to Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-160.
“The virus’s resurgence is closely associated with super-spreading events at large social gatherings, often attended by young people. More than 50 cases have been linked to a single house party in Saline; an outbreak at a Lansing bar has resulted in 187 infections; and a sandbar party at Torch Lake over the July 4 weekend led to at least 43 confirmed cases,” according to Executive Order 2020-160.
“We cannot afford to relax our vigilance if we hope to restart our economy, open our schools, and avoid a second wave. This executive order therefore prohibits any indoor social gatherings of more than 10 people statewide. At the same time, the order also closes bars across the state, including in the Traverse City region and the Upper Peninsula,” according to Executive Order 2020-160. “For the time being, Michiganders must curtail their social gatherings for the good of the community.”
Executive Order 2020-160 – called the “Amended Safe Start Order” – rescinds several previous orders and combines some of their restrictions into one new document.
“As a matter of housekeeping, I am also rescinding a series of prior orders and incorporating them into this comprehensive order governing the activities in Michigan that remain restricted on account of the pandemic,” Governor Whitmer said within the text of Executive Order 2020-160.
Executive Order 2020-160 rescinds the following orders: 2020-110 and 2020-115 (“Temporary restrictions on certain events, gatherings, and businesses”), 2020-120 (“Returning overnight camps to operation”), 2020-133 (“Restarting professional sports”), and 2020-143 (“Closing indoor service at bars”).
Sections 1, 2, and 3 of Executive Order 2020-160 deal with “Remote work,” “Workplace safety,” and “Individual responsibility.” (The “Individual responsibility” section deals with social distancing and wearing of masks as required by Executive Order 2020-153.)
Section 4 of Executive Order 2020-160 continues the closure of “indoor theaters, cinemas, and performance venues; indoor gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, sports facilities, exercise facilities, exercise studios,” and “amusement parks, arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, indoor climbing facilities, indoor dance areas, skating rinks, trampoline parks, carnival or amusement rides, water parks, and other similar recreational or entertainment facilities” in all of Michigan except for Region 6 and Region 8. (Crawford County is in Region 6. Region 8 is the Upper Peninsula.)
Section 4 also allows “casinos licensed by the Michigan Gaming Control Board and racetracks licensed by the Michigan Gaming Control Board” to re-open, with restrictions, at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, August 5.
“I am taking the occasion, too, to allow for the reopening of the Detroit casinos, subject to a 15% capacity limit and strict workplace safeguards. Casinos have been operating safely across most of the country and in tribal areas in Michigan and should be able to do so in the Detroit region as well,” Governor Whitmer said within the text of Executive Order 2020-160.
Section 5 orders bars to close statewide.
“Food service establishments that hold on-premises retailer licenses to sell alcoholic beverages must close for indoor service if they earn more than 70% of their gross receipts from sales of alcoholic beverages,” according to Executive Order 2020-160; however, outdoor service is still permitted.
Section 6 (“Liquor license restrictions”) continues to allow restaurants to serve “alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption.”
Section 7 provides updated “Rules on gatherings, events, and large venues.” It says that indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings are limited to 100 people; however, these restrictions do “not apply to the incidental gathering of persons in a shared space, including an airport, bus station, factory floor, restaurant, shopping mall, public pool, or workplace,” according to Executive Order 2020-160. Section 7 continues to allow “professional sports leagues and teams, including professional athletes engaged in individual sports,” to “resume operations provided that no live audiences are allowed, except for staff of the facility at which a sporting event is held and media personnel reporting on, filming, or otherwise documenting the sporting event.”
Section 8 provides a few different rules for Region 6 and Region 8, including a larger maximum number of people (250) allowed for outdoor gatherings. Also, “an indoor arcade, bowling alley, cinema, climbing facility, convention center, performance space, meeting hall, sports arena, theater, or similar indoor venue may be open to spectators or patrons, but only to the extent that it arranges the venue such that persons not part of the same household may maintain six feet of distance from one another at all times while in the venue; and limits the number of people in the venue to 25% of its maximum capacity or to 250, whichever is smaller.”
Section 9 provides statewide “exceptions” to the “public accommodations restrictions” listed in Section 4.
“The restrictions imposed by (Section 4) of this order do not apply to any of the following: If they are outdoors, fitness classes, athletic practices, training sessions, or games, provided that coaches, spectators, and participants not from the same household maintain six feet of distance from one another at all times during such activities, and that equipment and supplies are shared to the minimum extent possible and are subject to frequent and thorough disinfection and cleaning; Services necessary for medical treatment; Health care facilities, residential care facilities, congregate care facilities, and juvenile justice facilities; Crisis shelters or similar institutions; Food courts inside the secured zones of airports; and Employees, contractors, vendors, or suppliers who enter, use, or occupy the places described in Section 4 of this order in their professional capacity,” according to Executive Order 2020-160.
Section 10 and Section 11 allow “Parks” and “Pools” to stay open with restrictions.
Executive Order 2020-160 also offers an exemption for churches: “Neither a place of religious worship nor its owner is subject to penalty under Section 17 of this order for allowing religious worship at such place. No individual is subject to penalty under Section 17 of this order for engaging in religious worship at a place of religious worship.”
Section 17 says that “a willful violation of this order is a misdemeanor.”