News Story

Michigan Government’s Coronavirus Agents Active Statewide - Except Detroit

State has publicized 112 COVID busts but just two were in Detroit

The Bitely Tavern is the only bar in the tiny town of Bitely, which has a population of 1,624.

Yet agents of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission found their way to the Newaygo County town, about 50 miles north of Muskegon.

And owners of The Bitely Tavern found their liquor license suspended in January for violating the state’s lockdown on serving customers inside.

Remote towns like Bangor (population 1,860), Calumet (744), Conklin (5,801), Potterville (2,713), Sand Lake (538), Buckley (759), Jonesville (2,409), Hudson (2,536), Rockwood (3,186) and Memphis (1,236) have seen local businesses cited for violating various COVID-19 lockdown orders. But one city seems to have largely escaped such scrutiny: Detroit, with a population of 674,841.

That doesn’t necessarily mean households and business owners in Detroit are exempt from state pandemic restrictions and mandates. For example, from April 4 through May 18 of last year, the Detroit Police Department issued 2,528 citations and 5,633 warnings for pandemic order violations, while shutting down 39 parties and 47 businesses.

But the near-absence of state enforcement actions in the city is still notable. While various state enforcement agents undertook action 112 times against businesses all across Michigan, as of Jan. 22, they appear to have taken action within the city of Detroit just twice.

On Aug. 20, a Detroit business called Fresh Pak was cited for violating COVID-related orders from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which required employees to wear face masks.

On Jan. 6, 2021, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission suspended the liquor license of Minnie’s Rhythm Café in Detroit, after police responded to a complaint of a large party on the premises.

Outside those two instances, Detroit establishments have not been cited by state officials for violating COVID-19 restrictions, bans and mandates.

Indeed, the number of state coronavirus sanctions in Detroit is equal to the number issued to businesses in Newaygo, a town on the west side of the state with a population of 2,063.

In Newaygo, Kauffman Construction company was fined $2,100 for violating MIOSHA coronavirus rules, and Jimmy’s Roadhouse had its liquor license suspended for COVID-19 violations.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has ordered statewide COVID-19 restrictions on business and society equivalent to those initially imposed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer under an executive order. But it is not the only agency engaged in enforcing state coronavirus orders.

Other state agencies active in enforcing COVID violations include the Michigan Liquor Control Commission, the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration Association.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.