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Michigan cites restaurants and suspends liquor licenses to bars violating COVID-19 shutdown order

LANSING, MI – State departments are cracking down on some businesses violating a statewide order mandating all indoor drinking and dining shut down for three weeks in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 after a spike in new cases.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has issued citations to restaurants and the Michigan Liquor Control Commission has suspended liquor licenses to establishments in violation of the recent public health order Wednesday, Nov. 25.

The businesses that had liquor license suspensions include Cory’s Restaurant, doing business as Jimmy’s Roadhouse in Newaygo, Brew Works of Fremont and The Meeting Place in Fenton.

In addition, several restaurants were cited by the state, with penalties up to $1,000 per violation or day that a violation continues, the state said.

Those cited by the state include Woodchips BBQ in Lapeer, Big Boy of Sandusky and The Meeting Place in Fenton. The list also include Café Rosetta in the Upper Peninsula’s Calumet.

Information was received by MDHHS from local health departments and local law enforcement regarding non-compliance with the order, according to a Wednesday, Nov. 25, MDHHS news release. The civil fines are due within 30 days of receipt of the citations. Additional establishments are slated to be cited.

“The vast majority of restaurant and bar owners are doing the right thing and they have temporarily closed their indoor service to help prevent the spread of the virus,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “We know this is not easy for anyone, this is not an action we take lightly, but the sooner we can mitigate the spread of COVID-19 the sooner we can all get back to doing the things we enjoy.”

The restrictions went into effect on Wednesday, Nov. 18, and will last through the Thanksgiving holiday and until Dec. 8.

Some mid-Michigan restaurant owners have said they have reopened their doors for indoor dining to support their community and employees less than one week after a public health order requiring them to put a halt to the service.

A number of restaurants in Lapeer and the surrounding communities have posted the same lengthy message to their Facebook pages stating they’re banding together to offer in-person dining.

The state said it plans to issue additional citations.

“Cases of COVID-19 are incredibly high across the state, and these orders are in place to help prevent the spread of the virus, save lives, and protect our frontline workers,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “We need to do everything we can to alleviate the stress on our hospitals and health care workers. Food service establishments like restaurants and bars can help play a critical role by following the order and most of them are doing their part.”

To date, there have been more than 320,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Michigan, resulting in more than 8,600 deaths. Michigan’s COVID-19 daily death average has quadrupled in the last five weeks.

The public can report any suspected non-compliance issue at an establishment directly to the MLCC online or by calling the MLCC Enforcement hotline, toll-free, at 866-893-2121.

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