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Michigan to buy back liquor as Whitmer extends restrictions

Bottles of alcohol photo

The state of Michigan will offer cash-strapped bars and restaurants relief by buying back their liquor inventory during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an order authorizing the program in a flurry of moves late Monday.

She also delayed the expiration of valid driver’s licenses and state ID cards. And she extended a measure to keep intact a prohibition against dine-in service at restaurants and to continue the closure of many places of public accommodation through April 30 — when her stay-at-home order is scheduled to expire.

Michigan’s 8,500 on-premises liquor licensees will have until 5 p.m. Friday to request that the Liquor Control Commission buy back spirits purchased before March 16. Participating businesses are expected to keep their bottles for now because the agency will not take physical possession to limit the risk of COVID-19 spreading.

Licensees will be able to re-buy the liquor for at least 90 days after the states of emergency and disaster end.

Whitmer said the program will help bars and restaurants “weather the storm through this challenging time in our history.”

Her order to temporarily extend the expiration of driver’s licenses, to June 30, applies to those due to expire between March 1 and May 31.