Whitmer, MDHHS Require Bar Staff to Log Patrons, Refuse Service

by Mason Doerr

LANSING, MI – Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) today issued an updated Gatherings and Face Mask Order that establishes mandatory contact tracing for bars and restaurants.

“Another day, another bar and restaurant regulation that looks good on paper. Why do they continue to pick on bars and restaurants when their own data continues to show that we are not a problem industry?” said MLBA Executive Director Scott Ellis. “It would be more productive to focus on identifying and solving the real problems.”

Only two COVID-19 outbreaks (defined as two or more cases linked to one place) were tied to bars in the most recent data gathered by MDHHS, which accounted for a two-week period ending October 22. During that same period, zero ongoing clusters/outbreaks were being monitored.

“This puts an unnecessary burden on servers and staff who already have to deal with trouble customers who refuse to wear masks,” Ellis said. “The last time I checked, data collection was not in their job description.”

According to the order, all dine-in food service establishments must maintain accurate records of the names and phone numbers of patrons who purchase food for consumption on the premises, and the date and time of entry. If patrons refuse to provide information, servers must deny entry/service.

“Our great Michigan bars and restaurants have been doing everything they possibly can to ensure their businesses are clean and safe for patrons,” Ellis said. “While cases throughout the state are rising, bars and restaurants are keeping outbreaks at almost non-existent levels. If contact tracing is important, we should be doing it everywhere, not just in certain businesses to paint a bad picture.”

The epidemic order is effective immediately, except for the contact tracing portion for bars and restaurants, which goes into effect on November 2.

The full order can be read here:



Michigan law imposes on the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) a duty to continually and diligently endeavor to “prevent disease, prolong life, and promote public health,” and gives the Department “general supervision of the interests of health and life of people of this state.” MCL 333.2221. MDHHS may “[e]xercise authority and promulgate rules to safeguard properly the public health; to prevent the spread of diseases and the existence of sources of contamination; and to implement and carry out the powers and duties vested by law in the department.” MCL 333.2226(d).

Contact tracing requirements for particular gatherings.

All dine-in food service establishments must maintain accurate records of the names and phone numbers of patrons who purchase food for consumption on the premises, and the date and time of entry.
Consistent with any rule or emergency rule promulgated and adopted in a schedule of monetary civil penalties under MCL 333.2262(1) and applicable to this order, violations of this order are also punishable by a civil fine of up to $1,000 for each violation or day that a violation continues.

Food service establishment gathering restrictions.

In addition to the gathering limits set forth in section 2, gatherings in food service establishments are prohibited as follows:
In indoor common areas in which people can congregate, dance, or otherwise mingle;
If there is less than six feet of distance between each party;
If the number of persons at a table exceeds 6;
If the number of patrons in the restaurant exceeds 50% of normal seating capacity;
Anywhere alcoholic beverages are sold for consumption onsite, unless parties are seated and separated from one another by at least six feet, and do not intermingle; and
If they involve any persons not seated at a table or at the bar top (customers must wait outside the food service establishment if table or bar top seating is unavailable).
In the event that an employee of a food service establishment is confirmed positive for COVID-19 or shows symptoms of COVID-19 while at work, a gathering at that food service establishment is prohibited until the food service establishment has been deep cleaned consistent with Food and Drug Administration and CDC guidance.