Central Michigan Bars React to East Lansing Outbreak Linked to Shoulder-to-Shoulder Crowds

SAGINAW CO. (WJRT) (06/27/2020) As the number of COVID cases linked to an East Lansing bar continues to grow, the bars in Mid-Michigan are reacting to what they are seeing and hoping to avoid an outbreak of their own.

“There have been many different changes. It’s really a different atmosphere. “

Strange days behind the bar for Tim Murlick.

“I want to get back to normal,” said Murlick. “Now there is a new normal, but I want to go back to where we were and therefore we have to do everything we can.”

As evident as the memories hanging on the walls of his 6-year-old Carrollton sports bar, Merl’s Tavern, are carefully laminated hallmarks of the new normal.

“We have dropped to 50 percent capacity,” Murlick began, describing some of the precautions his staff has implemented. “We have the tables six feet away … every time someone touches the menu or the pen, we put them there and, when we have a chance, clean and reuse them.”

Murlick has a reason to worry; As of Saturday, the Ingham County Health Department reports that 85 cases have now been linked to shoulder-to-shoulder crowds at Harper’s, an East Lansing bar, which is now under temporary closure.

“In fact, we have started closing early because we have seen what happened at Lansing,” Murlick explained. “It’s hard to control after midnight … you don’t want to take any risks.”

It is the same warning story that unfolds in and around Grand Rapids, where the West Michigan media confirms that a handful of bars had to close their doors again after staff members contracted the virus.

Back in Carrollton, customers will find hand sanitizing stations located throughout the building, plus plexiglass barriers at several key points. Signs of innovation in place, as Murlick pointed out, are evident even in the bathrooms. Contactless doors that customers can open with their shoes.

“I have many friends who work at the hospital,” said Murlick. “It is not a sham. You see a lot of bad things there. Just follow the procedures … at least we are back in business. “

Hoping for the best but planning the worst and hoping it’s enough to keep that poster open.