MLBA Sends Letter to Governor and Legislature
Today, the MLBA sent a formal letter to Governor Whitmer and the Michigan Legislature. The letter highlighted that the hospitality industry is at a breaking point and many businesses may not survive if our industry is not opened in some capacity soon. The letter also highlighted several alcohol service initiatives and financial assistance actions we would like the governor and legislature to pursue:
Alcoholic Beverage Service Initiatives:
1. Require distributors to pick up products (beer, wine and spirits) that are expired.
2. Expand the process for allowing business owners to add outdoor seating via Temporary Outdoor Service Areas. Currently, these areas must be approved by MLCC and local governmental units. The MLCC application process should be expedited and local approval should be waived.
3. Allow all on-premises locations with a Class C, B-Hotel, G-1 or Club license to sell packaged beer, wine and spirits, as well as mixed drinks to go. Each of the previously mentioned license holders would need the legal ability to sell cocktails to go and be issued SDM (packaged beer and wine) and SDD (packaged liquor and mixed drinks) licenses.
4. Increase the state’s discount rate for on-premises liquor purchases from 17% to 30%.
5. Through legislation or executive order, allow on-premises liquor licensees to purchase an unlimited quantity of spirits from off-premises locations. Bars and restaurants will face inconsistent business and smaller profit margins and may need to purchase smaller quantities of spirits quickly.
Financial Assistance Actions:
1. Pass legislation that would require insurance companies to cover losses due to the COVID-19 shutdown. Most Business Interruption Insurance policies have a virus exclusion that lets insurance companies off the hook for covering these losses.
2. Executive Order 2020-57 released employers from unemployment liability when laying off employees due to the COVID-19 shutdown. If this order expires, future orders/legislation needs to add this same language to continue to release employers from unemployment liability because bars and restaurants will not be able to hire all staff back immediately.
3. Establish state grants and other funding initiatives for on-premises liquor license holders using dollars originally appropriated for the liquor revolving fund and/or the Pure Michigan campaign.
Governor Whitmer Announces Re-Opening Phases;
Extends Stay-at-Home Order through May 28
The governor also announced the MI Safe Start program to begin planning to re-engage Michigan’s economy. The plan explains that bars and restaurant will not be opened until phase 5, which is slated for when, “Epidemic levels are extremely low and outbreaks can be quickly contained. Health system capacity is strong with robust testing and tracing. Most businesses can reopen given adherence to strict safety measures.”
The MLBA will provide any updates on phase changes as we get them.
“It’s apparent that we will begin phase 3 next week when manufacturing can open in some capacity,” said MLBA Executive Director Scott Ellis. “However, the distinction between phase 3 and 4 is unclear. We will be asking for a more concrete timeline with specifics on how we will move from phase to phase.”
READ THE FULL PLAN HERE!
In a press conference this afternoon, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-77, which extends the stay-at-home order until May 28. The order also opens up manufacturing in some capacity beginning next week. Screening protocols for staff will need to be adopted by employers.
READ THE FULL ORDER HERE!
REMINDER: Federal Paycheck Protection Program: Round 2
Last week, a second installment of funds from the federal government was approved for the Paycheck Protection Program. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has fine-tuned this round of funding so large corporations do not qualify.
We encourage all members who were interested in the first round of funding, but were unable to secure the funds, to apply for this second round immediately.
More information about the program and how to apply can be found here:
657 On-Premises Liquor Licensees Participated
in the Spirits Buy-Back Program
Data from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), 657 on-premises liquor licensees throughout the state participated in the state’s spirits buy-back program.
The program provided a total of $3.3 million in financial relief for bars and restaurants.