Gov. Whitmer closes restaurants and bars

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New Hotel Mertens widened its delivery zones with reassurances to customers that its staff performs all deliveries “so we can monitor and mandate safety procedures.” Courtesy New Hotel Mertens bakery and café

Michigan’s governor has ordered all of the state’s restaurants and bars to shut down for dining in to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s order takes effect at 3 p.m. Monday, March 16, according to a report from The Associated Press this morning.

The businesses will be allowed to stay open for takeout and delivery, the AP reported.

The shutdown is temporary, according to a tweet this morning from Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II.

More details will be released soon, according to a spokesperson for the governor.

Justin Winslow, CEO of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association, said Monday that his organization supports the move.

“We stand with the governor in her decision to limit restaurant operation to carry-out, drive-thru and delivery during these extraordinary times,” he said. “It is incumbent upon all Michiganders to remain united to prevent a catastrophic overrun of our limited health care resources.”

He said while the temporary shutdown of restaurants and bars is necessary, establishments will be “decimated” in the coming weeks, “severely impacting the 600,000 people they employ.”

“To that end, we call on the governor to immediately submit the necessary paperwork to qualify Michigan for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and to work quickly to infuse more liquidity for small businesses struggling to make payroll and keep their doors open.”

He added Michigan consumers can help restaurants during this time by purchasing gift cards and continuing to order food via takeout and delivery.

Local eateries took to Facebook this morning, responding to the closure.

New Hotel Mertens widened its delivery zones with reassurances to customers that its staff performs all deliveries “so we can monitor and mandate safety procedures.”

In addition to its delivery services, Wealthy Street Bakery is adding curbside pickup for orders placed by credit card. The bakery said it has been impressed by the community response during this crisis.

“It’s been so refreshing to see this community come together through all of this uncertainty,” the bakery said in a post. “Kind people are our kinda people. Give us a call to let us know how we can be of help to you.”

Other restaurants, such as Butcher’s Union, have decided to close altogether until further notice.

Long Road Distillers also has closed all locations until further notice, although it will continue to stock its products on retail shelves.

Twenty new cases of COVID-19 were reported Sunday, bringing the Michigan total to 53, including an adult male in Kent County with no travel history and an adult female in Ottawa County with unknown travel and contact history.

Whitmer declared a state of emergency March 10, closed all K-12 schools March 12 and prohibited gatherings of more than 250 people on March 13.

According to the AP, she saw “incredibly disturbing” photos on social media Sunday of patrons cramming into establishments and not observing social distancing amid a global pandemic, which factored into Monday’s decision to close all bars and restaurants.

COVID-19 has infected over 169,000 people worldwide, and more than 6,500 people have died so far.

The latest information on the outbreak is available at michigan.gov/coronavirus and cdc.gov/coronavirus.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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