Bars Shuttered for Most of 2020, Closures Roll into 2021

by Mason Doerr

LANSING, MI – In a press conference this afternoon, Governor Whitmer announced an extension to the current MDHHS order. The extension requires bars and restaurants to remain closed for indoor dining until January 15. According to the MLBA, many businesses won’t be closing for another month, they will be closing permanently.

“Those in our industry are feeling a number of different things after the announcement. Some are angry, some are disappointed and some feel completely hopeless,” said MLBA Executive Director Scott Ellis. “With COVID-related numbers trending down, we thought it was time to give our bars and restaurants a break. We do not understand why the hospitality industry has been singled out, while trampoline parks and other entertainment facilities are allowed to open.”

Bar and restaurant owners across the state are desperate for good news. Recent survey data from the MLBA depicts that, on average, bar owners are facing $28,000 per month in expenses, while losing out on $48,000 in potential revenue per month.

“From state data gathered prior to the most recent MDHHS closure, we know that bars and restaurants were not a problem industry in terms of contributing to the spread of the virus,” Ellis said. “Our industry stepped up to take all of the necessary precautions in order to remain open and keep their employees and patrons safe. The MLBA will continue monitoring current COVID numbers in hopes of getting our industry open before the fifteenth.”

While congress focuses on an expansive nationwide stimulus package for Americans and American businesses, the MLBA is urging leaders at the state level to prioritize the hospitality industry in its own relief package.

“We know that on the state level, the governor and legislature are working together to provide funding for our industry. I would hope that with the announcement of the extension, they choose to allocate additional funding,” Ellis said. “They need to come together to finalize these plans on Monday and save this industry.”

With the holiday season upon us, the MLBA urges the legislature to put themselves in the shoes of hospitality workers.

“This is going to be a difficult holiday season for those who have been out of work for months on end, at no fault of their own,” Ellis said. “Michigan’s 500,000 hospitality workers, who have been in financial survival mode for months on end, deserve no-nonsense answers and solutions from our government.”