Grosse Pointe Park bars voluntarily close out of COVID-19 concerns

By Melody Baetens and Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Grosse Pointe Park — Two local pubs have decided to temporarily close after a cluster of COVID-19 cases in the city were tied to an outbreak at an East Lansing bar.

The county health department has initiated contact tracing linked to an unidentified person who was at Harper's Restaurant & Brew Pub in East Lansing between June 12-20 and attended private parties in Grosse Pointe Park last week.

Ingham County has identified at least 138 cases of COVID-19 linked to Harper's since the bar reopened with limited capacity on June 8.

The owner of the Ye Olde Tap Room said Wednesday it would be shut for the safety of the staff and patrons; the Charlevoix bar will reopen July 7, a statement said. 

The Charlevoix in Grosse Pointe Park.

"Due to the recent COVID-19 developments in the area the Tap Room will be closing until the situation improves," Ye Olde Tap Room owner Russ Mack posted on Facebook on Wednesday. "While I feel Tap Room is a safer environment because of the large outdoor area and increased air circulation inside the bar, this is necessary for the absolute safety of patrons and staff."

A statement from the Charlevoix bar said it would "err on the side of caution."

"This was probably one of the most difficult, yet easy, decisions we’ve had to make since we opened," the statement said. "With what’s going on in the area we’ve decided to err on the side of caution for both our staff and guests. We’ll see you all when the time is right!"

The closures come just as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday ordered indoor bars to shut in much of lower Michigan, including Metro Detroit, after spikes in cases in the Grand Rapids, Lansing and Kalamazoo areas and as nearly 25% of new COVID-19 cases statewide were identified in individuals between the ages of 20 and 29. 

Wayne County spokesman Bill Nowling said epidemiologists are interviewing the individual linked to the cases and others who may have come into contact with him. His age was not released,

"It's a rather extensive process," said Nowling. "We contact individuals and we encourage them to get tested. They should get tested and self-quarantine."

Nick Sizeland, Grosse Pointe Park city manager, confirmed the pub closings were connected to the outbreak of cases at Harper's.

Aimee Fluitt, a Grosse Pointe Park council member, applauded the restaurant owners' decisions to close, saying they are being "proactive in a way they felt best to serve the community."

Fluitt said she hopes people will take precautions so that "we don't have to go back to the stringent" measures in place before the governor allowed a phased-in reopening of businesses.

The COVID-19 connection to East Lansing and Grosse Pointe Park led to the delay in the reopening of the municipal pool in Grosse Pointe Park, Sizeland said.

The opening of Windmill Pointe Park has been postponed as a precaution until next Wednesday, Sizeland said.

"We as a city were very concerned and that is why we closed the pool," said Sizeland.

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Twitter: @melodybaetens