Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has shut down indoor service at bars across the southern part of the state citing a surge in positive cases of COVID-19 throughout lower Michigan beginning at 11 p.m. on Wednesday, July 1, 2020.

Bars in regions six and eight - the Upper Peninsula and Traverse City regions - will be able to remain open. But, establishments in all other regions in the state must close.

For the purpose of the order, bars are considered any establishment that earns more than 70% of their sales from the sale of alcohol. While indoor service will not be allowed, outdoor service will be allowed to continue as long as patrons are able to social distance.

The move doesn't come to a surprise for many, as more than 100 cases of COVID-19 have been traced to a bar in Lansing, and many establishments in West Michigan have been forced to close after employees tested positive.

In her latest order, Whitmer stated that bars were specifically shut down because they are, "often crowded, indoors and poorly ventilated."

They encourage mingling among groups and facilitate close contact over an extended period of time. They are noisy, requiring raised voices and allowing for more projection of viral droplets. And they serve alcohol, which reduces inhibitions and decreases compliance with mask use and physical distancing rules.

Restaurants will be able to remain open for indoor service for the time being, but alcohol may only be served to patrons who are seated at socially distanced tables. There are other precautions that must be adhered to, as well:

  • Patrons must wear face coverings when seated at their table or bar top. (Unless they are medically unable to do so.
  • Patrons must remain seated, except to enter, exit, order food, or use the bathroom.
  • Alcohol will only be served to patrons via table service. Unless the patrons are seated at the bar.
  • Access must be prohibited to common areas where people would congregate, dance or mingle.

Under the order, nightclubs and strip clubs will also be closed.

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