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Governor Announces Michigan COVID-19 Office of Accountability, Financial Relief for Restaurants

source: Executive Office of the Governor

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed an Executive Order creating the Michigan COVID-19 Office of Accountability within the State Budget Office. Whitmer said the office will provide oversight of all spending to address the crisis, and must report regularly on its work to the governor and the state budget director.

“Protecting the people of Michigan and lowering the chance of a second wave has demanded flexibility and decisiveness, and has also required funds from the state treasury, philanthropic sources, and the federal government,” said Governor Whitmer. “Michiganders have the right to expect that state government will be responsible stewards of their resources, especially in a time of crisis. I will continue to work around the clock to ensure these resources are spent wisely, in compliance with the law, and in a transparent and accountable manner.”

Gov. Whitmer also announced that more than $3.3 million in financial relief is going to 657 bar and restaurant owners across the state. She called it a financial lifeline averaging over $5,000 for hard-hit hospitality businesses. The Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) is administrator of the governor’s spirits buyback program.

“I know the financial losses have been incredibly devastating to business owners in the hospitality industry during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gov. Whitmer. “I am pleased that through this innovative program, we can provide much-needed cash to hundreds of Michigan’s bars and restaurants that are struggling right now, to help tide them over until they’re open for business again.”

Pursuant to the governor’s Executive Order 2020-46, the program offered a 100% cash buyback to on-premise liquor licensees for spirits they had ordered from the Commission prior to March 16, 2020. Licensees actually keep possession of the products the Commission bought back, with no bottles being picked up. Bars and restaurants have 90 days after emergency declarations are lifted to repurchase the inventory by selling it when they’re back open for business and pay the Commission back interest free.

“The Commission is proud to be a part of the governor’s one-of a kind liquor buyback,” said MLCC Chair Pat Gagliardi. “We’re extremely pleased to provide these neighborhood bars and restaurants across Michigan a financial lifeline they can count on in these uncertain times.”

Eligible licensees applied for the spirits buyback program directly through the MLCC from April 14-24. Once applications were approved by the MLCC, checks were issued to licensees from the Michigan Department of Treasury.

Dine-in services of all bars and restaurants in the state were suspended on March 16 by Executive Order as the coronavirus outbreak continued to spread.



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