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$3.3 million in relief aid going to 657 Michigan bars, restaurants through spirits buyback program

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Posted at 4:16 PM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-04 16:57:30-04

LANSING (WXYZ) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Monday millions of dollars in relief aid is going to bar and restaurant owners in the state amid the pandemic. The financial relief is made possible through the state's spirits buyback program, which was announced in April.

More than $3.3 million in financial relief will go to 657 bar and restaurant owners, which breaks down to an average of $5,000 for hard-hit hospitality businesses across the state.

“I know the financial losses have been incredibly devastating to business owners in the hospitality industry during this COVID-19 pandemic,” Whitmer said. “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.”

The buyback program is administered through the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC). The program is under Executive Order 2020-46, which offered a 100 percent cash buyback to on-premise liquor licensees who purchased from the commission prior to March 16.

The licensees were able to keep the products that the commission bought back, with no bottles being picked up, a release states. Now, the licensees will have 90 days after the state's emergency declarations are lifted to repurchase their inventory by selling it when they’re back open for business. Licensees will pay the commission back interest free.

Eligible licensees applied for the spirits buyback program directly through the MLCC between April 14 and April 24.

Dine-in services of all bars and restaurants in the state were suspended on March 16 by executive order, and with an extension of the stay-home order, restaurants remain under limited ability as the state continues to address the coronavirus health crisis.

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