MDHHS Shuts Down Indoor Service at Bars and Restaurants

by Mason Doerr

LANSING, MI – Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) today issued a new Gathering Prohibition and Face Covering Order, which closes all indoor service at bars and restaurants throughout the state for three weeks. The order also closes casinos, bowling alleys, movie theaters and many other businesses.

“Our number one priority has been the safety of servers and patrons. We have been following all the rules. We’ve been wearing masks, social distancing and sanitizing relentlessly,” said MLBA Executive Director Scott Ellis. “We have to figure out a way to operate.”

According to data collected by the MLBA in a recent survey, one-third of bars are currently on the verge of closing permanently. In another one to three months, another 29 percent will be in the same situation.

“The hospitality industry went from being shutdown, to operating at 50 percent, and now we’re back to closing our doors again. Our industry has been devastated and this is just another nail in the coffin for many businesses,” Ellis said. “As the governor said, we’re at a precipice and there is a need for action. If we’re being told to sit back, be patient and not act, we expect our leaders to have a plan. We expect our legislature and governor to be taking the steps necessary to ensure that our industry survives.”

Many bars and restaurants were able to survive the warmer season by adding or expanding their outdoor service areas, but with winter closing in, that boosted revenue will not be there anymore. The MLBA is calling on Michiganders to order carry-out and support their local bars and restaurants like they typically would under normal circumstances. If you visited your favorite bar once a week, consider ordering food and mixed drinks to go from that same place once a week.

“The summer season is one of the busiest times of year for many bars and restaurants throughout the state. The holiday season is one of the busiest times for others. Our businesses will have missed both this year,” Ellis said. “Our state is about to see a massive spike in unemployment with Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner. Our business owners and their staff will be financially devastated going into the holidays.”

The epidemic order is effective Wednesday, November 18, at 12.01 a.m. The full order can be read here:,9753,7-406-98178_98455-545136–,00.html

What you need to know: 

Gathering restrictions for particular types of facilities.

a. Gatherings, are prohibited in the following settings:

1. Entertainment venues, including: auditoriums; arenas; banquet halls; cinemas; conference centers; concert halls; performance venues; sporting venues; stadiums; and theaters;

2. Recreational facilities and places of public amusement, including: amusement parks; arcades; bingo halls; bowling alleys; casinos; night clubs; skating rinks; strip clubs; water parks; and trampoline parks;


b. Gatherings are permitted at food service establishments under the following conditions:

1. Persons are not gathered indoors except in custodial settings, medical facilities, school and university cafeterias, shelters, and soup kitchens. If attendees are seated at tables, persons must be 6 feet apart, or members of a household may share a table and tables must be spaced a minimum of 6 feet apart;

2. Persons participating in outdoor dining are seated no more than 6 to a table and tables are spaced a minimum of 6 feet apart.

c. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the use of these facilities for public health or other emergency purposes.