As the state confronts an uptick in new cases of COVID-19, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order on Wednesday shutting down indoor bar service for most of Michigan. 

After months of being shut down, bars and restaurants in Michigan had been allowed to reopen for indoor service with limited capacity on June 8. Now, establishments that earn more than 70 percent of their gross receipts from alcohol sales must again shut down their indoor service. 

“Following recent outbreaks tied to bars, I am taking this action today to slow the spread of the virus and keep people safe,” Whitmer said. “If we want to be in a strong position to reopen schools for in-person classroom instruction this fall, then we need to take aggressive action right now to ensure we don’t wipe out all the progress we have made.”

This comes after bars across Michigan have been linked to COVID-19 outbreaks; over 100 cases were linked to an East Lansing bar last week. Ann Arbor is not exempt. As Michigan’s stay at home orders were lifted, students began flocking to bars, craving a sense of normalcy. 

The order said the state’s efforts to combat the spread of the virus had “stalled out.”

“Over the past week, every region in Michigan has seen an uptick in new cases, and daily case counts now exceed 20 cases per million in the Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Kalamazoo regions,” the order read. “A relatively large proportion of these new cases are occurring among young people: nearly one quarter of diagnoses in June were in people aged 20 to 29, up from roughly 16% in May.” 

The order applies to areas of the state that are under Phase 4 of the Michigan Safe Start Plan, including Washtenaw County. The order does not apply to Regions 8 and 9 of the plan, which include the Upper Peninsula and most of northern Michigan. 

Whitmer simultaneously signed two new laws that allow bars and restaurants to sell cocktails-to-go and expand social districts for outdoor seating. The governor emphasized that the order closing indoor bar service does not mean that bars have to shut down all together. 

“Bars will not have to close down completely, but may still offer outdoor seating and use creative methods like cocktails-to-go in hopes that we can bring our numbers down,” Whitmer said. “I am hopeful providing options for cocktails-to-go and expanded social districts will ensure these businesses can remain open and Michiganders can safely and responsibly enjoy their summer outdoors.” 

Daily Staff Reporter John Grieve can be reached at


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