RICK THOMPSON (copy)

Union Street Station owner Rick Thompson inside the bar.

LANSING — After two months, Michigan’s bar and restaurant owners may hear positive news as early as Wednesday.

The Michigan Licensed Beverage Association has notified its members that it expects Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to announce in a Wednesday state press conference the re-opening of bars and restaurants to indoor service Feb. 1, citing a conversation it had with the office that issues the orders.

“The reopening would likely take place beginning February 1, giving owners time to work with supply chain and figure out staffing,” the MLBA said in a statement. “It will likely include a limited capacity and curfew, and then possibilities for restaurants that take additional public health measures to have a higher capacity limit.”

The MLBA said that although it was disappointed with the timing, the light at the end of the tunnel was reassuring.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Emergency Order that targets indoor gatherings expires at 11:59 Friday, Jan. 15. MDHHS Director Robert Gordon initially issued the order Nov. 18 and it has extended it multiple times.

State officials have said they’re looking at three COVID-19 data points when considering health orders: new cases, current hospitalizations and percent positivity rate. All three have declined since the order started Nov. 18.

The Governor’s office hadn’t yet announced a press conference for Wednesday, but it typically does so the morning it is supposed to happen.

Gaylord restaurant hearing delayed

An Administrative Law Judge granted a request from an attorney representing The Iron Pig Smokehouse and its owner Ian Murphy to delay a Tuesday hearing regarding the suspension of its food establishment license.

The judge set a new hearing time for Thursday at 9 a.m. via Zoom.

Murphy and The Iron Pig have remained open despite indoor dining ban from MDHHS. The restaurant’s liquor license was suspended by regulators for 90 days, it’s been fined $5,000 from MDHHS, and most recently its food license was suspended.

David Delaney, Murphy’s lawyer, had a trial he was scheduled to speak at an hour after his hearing for The Iron Pig began. That was scheduled Dec. 4, whereas the initial suspension notice from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development came Dec. 29.

Follow Andrew Rosenthal on Twitter @ByAndrewR

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