A bartender mixes a drink while wearing a mask and face shield at Slater's 50/50 in Santa Clarita, CA. Bars have been tied to numerous recent outbreaks across the nation. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
A bartender mixes a drink while wearing a mask and face shield at Slater's 50/50 in Santa Clarita, CA. Bars have been tied to numerous recent outbreaks across the nation. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Gov. Whitmer’s plan for cocktails-to-go will make for a fun summer, but see how this fits into her ultimate goal of making schools safe for the fall.

MICHIGAN — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s latest executive order may mean Michiganders won’t be able to belly up to some of their favorite bars this summer. But in the interest of social distancing, new bills she signed into law Wednesday will allow customers to take those refreshing summer cocktails to-go. 

July 1, Gov. Whitmer closed indoor service at bars throughout most of lower Michigan to protect the progress the state has made against the coronavirus. The Upper Peninsula and much of northern Michigan are excluded from the order, and bars statewide can continue to serve outdoors.

The governor’s order applies to establishments with on-premises retailer liquor licenses that earn more than 70% of their gross receipts from alcohol sales. That means most brewpubs, distilleries, and vineyards can stay open indoors, but traditional bars, nightclubs, and strip clubs will have to end indoor service. (It puts a new spin on last call: You don’t have to go home, but you definitely can’t stay here.) 

But liquor licensees will be able to sell packaged and sealed containers of mixed drinks with delivery or takeout orders — and ’Ganders will be able to knock ’em back in expanded social drinking districts, under new law. 

“Following recent outbreaks tied to bars, I am taking this action today to slow the spread of the virus and keep people safe,” Gov. Whitmer said in a statement. “If we want to be in a strong position to reopen schools for in-person classroom instruction this fall, then we need to take aggressive action right now to ensure we don’t wipe out all the progress we have made.”

RELATED: Inside Gov. Whitmer’s Back-To-School Plan: 11 Ways Michigan Classrooms Will Look Different This Fall

For Gov. Whitmer, coronavirus “superspreaders” are a state- and nationwide issue that hits home. As The ’Gander reported, health officials in Ingham County have linked nearly 140 confirmed COVID-19 cases to an outbreak at a single bar in East Lansing, the governor’s own hometown. 

READ ALSO: What’s Leading to the Coronavirus Comeback in Michigan? Bars and Boat Parties, for Starters

Getting Creative With Cocktails-to-Go and Drinking Outdoors: What Michiganders Can Expect

The same day Gov. Whitmer released that executive order, she also signed a package of bills into law that she said will hopefully provide creative options to ensure affected businesses can remain open and Michiganders can safely and responsibly enjoy their summer outdoors. 

We’re definitely excited to see how Michigan businesses approach those creative options, which include cocktails-to-go and expanded social drinking districts. Sounds like a formula for some lazy, hazy summer nights we can still enjoy in the age of COVID-19. 

Here’s what to know about cocktails-to-go: 

  • Consumers will be able to buy them until December 31, 2025.
  • Licensed establishments are allowed to hold two-for-one specials. 
  • Everyone must pay applicable taxes and comply with state law, and the receiving party must show ID and sign at delivery.
  • The drink must be delivered in a container without a straw hole that is clearly marked or stamped as containing alcohol and prominently displays the restaurant’s name or logo. 

It’ll be up to local governments to establish those outdoor social drinking districts, where people of legal drinking age will be able to purchase boozy bevvies from nearby restaurants and drink them off the restaurant’s premises so long as they remain in the designated area.  

For the moment, many Michigan businesses are still getting their cocktails-to-go setups up and running. But that certainly doesn’t mean you have to go without fancy drinks this holiday weekend. 

Some restaurants and bars across Michigan have been doing their best to deliver their signature cocktails to customers long before this new legislation went into effect with cocktail kits that include everything but the booze. 

Eater Detroit has put together a primo list of where to find cocktail kits in Metro Detroit, including margarita and Detroit Tart cocktail kits from Imperial, spicy branch cordial and lemongrass limeade kits from Bumbo’s Bar, and berry mojito and cucumber jalapeño mule kits from Bobcat Bonnie’s

And if none of those tickle your fancy, why not try one of MLive’s fabulous Michigan-themed mixed drinks around the bonfire this weekend? Cheers!

CHECK OUT: Skipping Big Summer Fests? Check Out Detroit’s Spectacular Outdoor Art Installations Instead.