On Wednesday, Jan. 13, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference and announced that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) extended the ban on indoor dining to Monday, Feb. 1.
According to a MDHHS press release, the MDHHS updated its epidemic order Wednesday to allow re-opening of additional activities where Michiganders can remain masked and socially distanced, as this has been scientifically shown to slow the virus. This includes indoor group exercise and non-contact sports. The new order is effective Saturday, Jan. 16 and will last until Sunday, Jan. 31.
“The efforts we have made together to protect our families, frontline workers and small business owners are working,” Whitmer said. “While there has been a slight uptick in our percent positivity rate, our cases per million have plateaued and more hospital beds are becoming available. Today, we are confident that MDHHS can lift some of the protocols that were previously in place.”
The epidemic order continues to temporarily pause indoor dining in bars and restaurants, but they can continue to offer outdoor dining, carry-out and delivery. The working plan is to open indoor dining with mitigation measures, capacity limits and a curfew on Feb. 1, but the ultimate decision depends on data continuing to stabilize. Additional details on the reopening pathway are expected next week, according to the press release.
On Wednesday, the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA) issued its own statement following the governor’s press conference. The statement read, “Bars, restaurants and other businesses in the hospitality industry were looking forward to reopening on Jan. 16,” said MLBA Executive Director Scott Ellis. “In fact, we’ve been ready to reopen for a long time. The state’s data indicated that we weren’t a problem industry when we were unfairly shut down in November.
During her speech, Whitmer said that the reopening would likely require bars and restaurants to abide by strong safety measures, including mask requirements, capacity limits and a potential curfew.
“We hope this is done right. If requirements are too restrictive, many businesses may choose to remain closed because it just won’t be worth it for them,” Ellis said. “Businesses aren’t designed to survive on 25 or 50 percent of their normal revenue.”
Whitmer said that more details regarding the Feb. 1 reopening will be released later this week.
“At the end of the day, an additional two-week closure means more businesses will close their doors forever, communities will lose their gathering places and workers will find themselves desperately seeking employment in an economy that’s in shambles,” Ellis said.
• Indoor dining at restaurants and bars
• Trampoline parks and indoor water parks
• Contact sports, except professional sports
• Any businesses that can have employees work from home
• Indoor group fitness classes and non-contact sports
• Two household gatherings, but with precautions
• Small outdoor gatherings of 25 people
• Funerals, but limited to 25 people
• Theaters, movie theaters, stadiums and arenas
• Bowling alleys, casinos, bingo halls and arcades
• Preschool through 12th grade, by local district’s choice
• Childcare facilities
• Manufacturing, construction and other that cannot be remotely done
• Public transportation
• Hair salons and barbershops
• Gyms, ice rinks and pools for individual exercise and extra spacing
• Restaurants and bars for takeout, outdoor seating and delivery
• Professional sports, but no spectators
Source: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services