Michigan limits gatherings, shuts down bars amid COVID-19 spike

Michigan will limit indoor gatherings to 10 people and ban indoor service at bars as the state experiences a spike in coronavirus cases, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced Wednesday.

"Tonight, after an uptick of #COVID19 cases due to social gatherings, I amended Michigan’s Safe Start Order & issued revised workplace safeguards. As of July 31st, statewide indoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people & bars will be closed for indoor service across the state," Whitmer tweeted Wednesday.  

"I’ve said this from the start — these are difficult decisions, but I will do what is necessary to protect the brave men and women on the front lines, avoid overwhelming our healthcare system, and save lives," she continued, also urging Michigan residents to "practice social distancing, wear a mask, and encourage those around you to do the same." 

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The changes will take effect on July 31, according to a Wednesday statement from the governor's office. All bars in the state must close if they earn more than 70 percent of their "gross receipts" from the sale of alcohol. 

Whitmer's order allows casinos in the state to reopen on Aug. 5, but they can only operate at 15 percent capacity. Casinos also must require a temperature screening daily for employees and customers, in addition to mandating that patrons wear a mask or face covering, amid other restrictions.

The Michigan governor said the spike in COVID-19 cases in the state has been "associated with super-spreading events at large social gatherings." She pointed to an outbreak at a Lansing bar that has resulted in 187 infections and a house party that has been linked to more than 50 cases, in addition to other large events "often attended by young people." 

Michigan has documented at least 89,026 coronavirus cases across the state, as well as 6,426 fatalities.