Officials push importance of public gathering limits ahead of St. Patrick’s Day


Above, watch a replay of Sunday’s news conference.

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan’s attorney general is reiterating the importance of limiting public gatherings to 250 people or less, calling on Michigan’s bars and restaurants to enforce those limits amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With St. Patrick’s Day only two days away, AG Dana Nessel focused on capacity issues during a joint news conference Sunday, calling them “essential public health protections.”

The hospitality industry is at the forefront of the outbreak, taking a significant financial hit during the crisis, said Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Winslow said it was rare for him to advocate on behalf of restrictions to the industry, but said the threat is serious enough that everyone must operate out of an abundance of caution.

“We have strongly recommended to all of our members, heed the governor’s executive order,” he said.

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Winslow also reminded Michiganders to take advantage of restaurant carry-out and delivery options as restaurants are “doubling down” on safety and sanitization efforts.

Scott Ellis, executive director of the Michigan License and Beverage Association, said while the hospitality industry relies on days like St. Patrick’s Day, one of the goals of staying within the executive order’s limits is to avoid a complete shutdown of bars and restaurants across the state.

“Hopefully, by being diligent now, we can avert a larger crisis,” Ellis said.

Ellis urged patrons to continue to support the bars and restaurants they frequent, adding many will face irrecoverable losses if the outbreak isn’t contained.

As of Sunday afternoon, Nessel said no businesses has been cited for crowding issues under the executive order. However, violators are subject to losing their liquor license and having their businesses closed.

As of Sunday morning, there were a total of 33 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Michigan, with no reported deaths. Eight new cases were confirmed on Saturday.

Stay with News 8 as the story develops.


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