Restaurants and bars will be able to sell spirits back to the state under an executive order signed Monday evening by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
The program is aimed to provide financial assistance to bars and restaurants, which were closed to in-person dining and drinking as of March 16 in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
With the order, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission would use its revolving fund to buy spirits inventories from bars and restaurants that were purchased before March 16. The MLCC would pay back the full purchase price for the inventory.
“This buy-back program will help our bars and restaurants critical to Michigan’s economy weather the storm through this challenging time in our history,” Whitmer said in a statement.
Under the terms of the order, the MLCC would not take physical possession of the inventory, which would remain with the licensee, who “must take all reasonable care to account for and preserve the inventory of any such spirits.”
Licensees will then have 90 days after the emergency order and disaster declaration is lifted to purchase back the liquor from the state.
“Upon repayment of the full buyback amount, the licensee will again hold title to the spirits in its possession,” according to the executive order.
The MLCC, which will consider official action on the executive order at its meeting today, is expected to make an online form available on its website for licensees to request the buy-back. They must make the request by Friday, April 17.
Crain’s Detroit Business first reported the buy-back program on Friday, noting the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association estimated the effort could result in a $20 million cash infusion for the state’s bars and restaurants, which had stocked up ahead of St. Patrick’s Day and in anticipation of the NCAA basketball tournament.
The state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development also partnered with the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association to allow restaurants to sell food and pantry items, as MiBiz previously reported.
Whitmer also signed an executive order extending the in-person dining restrictions through April 30. The order also affects gyms, theaters, casinos, and “other places of public accommodation.”
Another executive order Whitmer signed last night temporarily extends the expiration date to June 30 for valid driver’s licenses, ID cards and commercial vehicle registrations that were supposed to expire from March 1 to May 30.
She also signed orders lifting all seasonal weight restrictions through May 11 and allowing the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, Unemployment Insurance Agency, and other administrative hearings to be held by video conference or phone
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