Last call: Michigan bars and restaurants expect busy night before three-week pause

Bars will be closed on their traditional busiest night before Thanksgiving
Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 7:22 PM EST
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BAY COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - Last call around Mid-Michigan, as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services epidemic order closing indoor service at bars and restaurants takes effect Wednesday.

The owner of Flint’s White Horse Tavern doesn’t expect any concerns with large crowds, but health departments have a different take on what may happen.

The night before Thanksgiving traditionally is the biggest bar night of the year. That date has been moved up to Tuesday night essentially because of the epidemic order, which forces bars and restaurants across Michigan to close their indoor dining facilities until Dec. 9.

The Bay County Health Department is concerned about the possible influx of bar patrons spreading coronavirus even more. Bars are social gathering places and that is a potential breeding ground for the illness to spread.

Even with masks, social distancing and contact tracing measures in place, the health department says people lose sight of their judgment or inhibitions with alcohol use and are more likely to not follow those guidelines in place.

Through the first half of November, the COVID-19 numbers only keep going up. Bay County alone reported an increase of 198 cases of the illness on Tuesday for a total of 3,043 cases.

“People that are going into crowded and cramped bars, especially tonight when there is extreme heightened transmission of the virus, are putting themselves at a great risk and putting others at a great risk as well,” said Bay County Health Officer Joel Strasz.

Anyone going to a bar Tuesday night should use outdoor seating in an area with good ventilation, he said. Some restaurants and bars are doing that already and more will be as Michigan enters this second shutdown.

Otherwise, Strasz said it’s best to just stay home and avoid social gatherings.

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