Mid-Michigan bar owner not surprised by latest executive order, calls 2020 “a wrap”

Gov. Whitmer restricted service at bars in lower Michigan on Wednesday
Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 8:12 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - A mid-Michigan businessman is calling 2020 a wash after learning that the governor would be forcing his night club to partially shutdown.

“I considered 2020 just basically a wrap anyway,” said The Loft owner Rodney Ott. “Even if we were allowed to still open, we were still operating at 50-percent capacity.”

Gov. Whitmer issued an executive order late Wednesday afternoon that forced night clubs like The Loft to close by 11 p.m. Wednesday, less than a month after the business had re-opened.

“If we see a sustained spike that’s precisely what would take us back to a phase 3,” Whitmer said.

During a COVID-19 update Tuesday Whitmer said the state could see more restrictions if the data supported the need for it.

Ott thought he might hear an announcement about returning to phase three on Wednesday. Instead, the governor shut down indoor service at bars in much of the lower peninsula. That includes night clubs, strip clubs and businesses that earn more than 70-percent of their gross receipts from alcohol sales.

“Not surprising, you know, just considering the rise and spike in COVID cases and just some news in Lansing at other establishments,” Ott said.

In the executive order the governor says “our progress in suppressing COVID-19 appears to have stalled out.” She cites upticks across every region in Michigan and specifically points out rising case counts in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Lansing. One outbreak at an East Lansing bar is linked to more than 100 cases of COVID-19. Whitmer goes on to mention super spreader events in bars in Louisiana, Florida and Texas.

Whitmer said bars can be crowded and poorly ventilated, creating an environment that is conducive to the spread of the coronavirus.

“I respect what she’s doing, and I’m going to follow whatever she says until we can get a handle on the virus and just 2020 to be honest,” Ott said.

Wednesday the governor also signed a package of bills that allows “cocktails to go.” This means you can purchase certain alcoholic beverages with your carry out or delivery order, provided to customers in sealed containers.

Ott has been in the business for 17 years. He says the forced break from the downtown Flint hot spot gave him a little taste of retirement. Establishments like his were allowed to reopen on June 8 at 50-percent capacity.

“It was nice to be able to reopen, you know, when you have no cash flow coming in for 3 or 4 months,” he said. “I guess we got our fill for a month, and we’ll go back and have another reopening party when we can reopen.”

You can read the executive order here.

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