Smaller bars allowed to reopen with new order

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After being closed for months on end, Michigan bars can reopen under the order put out by the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday.  

The new order did away with the previous rule that prohibited the opening of any bar or establishment for which 70% of its sales are alcohol.  

College Inn, a family-owned bar in Grand Rapids, can finally open under the new rules, after being closed for most of the year per the governor’s executive orders.  

“We have a microwave, that’s our kitchen, so we didn’t have enough food to pull it off,” said the bar’s owner, Rick Geldhof.  

The Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA) tried for months to get the Governor’s Office to overturn the 70/30 distinction.  

“It didn’t make sense that just because they serve more alcohol that COVID is going to spread there,” MLBA Executive Director Scott Ellis said. “I didn’t know where the science was behind that.” 

Ellis said small neighborhood bars, like College Inn, were the hardest hit by this stipulation. 

Following last week’s Michigan Supreme Court decision overruling Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders, the MDHHS put out similar orders of their own—one of the few differences doing away with the 70/30 alcohol distinction.  

This news overjoyed small bar owners like Geldhof.  

“Totally, completely, ecstatic,” he said. “It’s been hard, but we’re pretty happy right now.” 

College Inn opens at 10 a.m. Monday. 

The full order can be read online.

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