It’s St. Patrick’s Day and every bar and restaurant in East Lansing is all but empty. East Lansing’s current state is a ghost town compared to the scene the night after Michigan State University announced that they would be moving all learning to online and encouraged students to practice social distancing.
On Mar. 16, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered all bars and restaurants to close temporarily, due to the COVID-19 virus. The only services available were delivery and take out. The governor's ban included groupings of over 50 people at once.
This leaves some East Lansing places, like Harper’s, The Riv and Conrad’s, that thrived on dine-in settings, hurting.
For St. Patrick’s Day, their doors will have to be closed, as with many other small businesses, restaurants and bars.
Steps are being taken by many to help combat the revenue loss that these businesses will take in wake of the novel coronavirus.
On Mar.17, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan’s Small Business Development Center joined together to support small businesses, who are taking a hit because of the novel coronavirus, work through the revenue loss.
“Small businesses drive the economies of our communities, and we understand that they are facing unprecedented challenges. We are committed to providing vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing,” MEDC CEO Mark Burton said in a statement.
“We are working with small business organizations and partners around the state to ensure that every possible resource is made available to businesses, communities, entrepreneurs and others around the state, and we will continue to provide updates as soon as they’re available.”
Along with their support, MEDC is encouraging small and medium-sized businesses to learn more about the resources available to them.
Gov. Whitmer is also seeking aid to help small businesses and the employees within them.
On March 16, Whitmer announced that she is seeking an Economic Injury Disaster Loan Declaration for the State in wake of the current situation. The U.S. Small Business Administration are expected to have the application process completed within the week.
Whitmer discussed her decisions on MSNBC Tuesday morning. Acknowledging that businesses will struggle, Whitmer believes that the decisions have been in the best interest of the public.
"When we close restaurants to dine-in, and we close all the bars, it’s going to mean that people are going to lose their jobs and a lot of businesses are really gonna struggle," Whitmer said. "At the end of the day we have to make decisions based on the best science, the best facts and what is in the best interest of the public health.
"Places of mass congregation are where this virus continues to spread. In order to flatten the curve we need to be aggressive on the front end."
For now the bars will remain empty. Restaurants and businesses will continue to navigate through uncharted territory, as the COVID-19 cases in Michigan are on the rise, with Ingham County having two confirmed cases, as of March 17.
The next few weeks in East Lansing won’t look like it usually does.