Michigan restaurants and bars will now be allowed to sell to-go alcoholic beverages, thanks to a new package of bills signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday.
Bars and restaurants will now be able to sell drinks to-go, as well as deliver them, until December 31, 2025. Whitmer’s office said the bills are aimed at providing relief for restaurants and bars impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, according WXYZ.
According to the legislation, drinks have to be served in a sealable container less than one gallon and recipients are required to verify their age upon delivery, ClickOnDetroit reported.
“The Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, its members and all 8,500 licensees throughout the state have something to be excited about today,” MLBA Executive Director Scott Ellis said, according to WXYZ.
The passage of the legislation comes as Whitmer closes indoor service at bars in lower Michigan, reducing them to outdoor service only. Only regions 6 and 8, which include the Upper Peninsula and much of northern Michigan, are allowed to continue indoor seating.
“We owe it to our front line heroes who have sacrificed so much during this crisis to do everything we can to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the chance of a resurgence like we are seeing in other states,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Following recent outbreaks tied to bars, I am taking this action today to slow the spread of the virus and keep people safe. If we want to be in a strong position to reopen schools for in-person classroom instruction this fall, then we need to take aggressive action right now to ensure we don’t wipe out all the progress we have made.”
Every region in Michigan has seen an uptick in new coronavirus cases, with nearly 25 percent of diagnoses in June in people ages 20 to 29, according to Whitmer’s office.
The newly-passed package of bills also allows government bodies to establish social districts in which the selling of alcohol is permitted and increases the amount of spirits an on-premises account can purchase from an off-premises account. It also allows a licensed establishment to sell alcoholic drinks in a two-for-one sale.
“Bars will not have to close down completely, but may still offer outdoor seating and use creative methods like cocktails-to-go in hopes that we can bring our numbers down,” Whitmer said. “I am hopeful providing options for cocktails-to-go and expanded social districts will ensure these businesses can remain open and Michiganders can safely and responsibly enjoy their summer outdoors.”
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @Jordynpair. Email her at [email protected]